JETS STALLED ONCE, BUT THAT’S HISTORY
Players, coach vow they won’t be too slow for the Wild again, Paul Friesen writes.
We found a term ST. PAUL, MINN. for what ailed the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
On Tuesday night, we’ll see if the Jets found a cure.
“It’s the disease of slowness,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “That’s what cost us the game.”
What’s the first thing you do when you learn of a new ailment? Look it up in the medical dictionary, of course.
In the Medical Dictionary of Hockey Ailments, in the section on diseases, you’ll find this:
Disease of slowness: an ailment that was prevalent in the game through the 1970s, ’80s and even ’90s, but has gradually been eradicated by injections of fast, young players. Can still appear occasionally, usually in a fourth-line player who spends a lot of time on the bench. If it spreads through an entire team, left unchecked, it can be fatal, especially in the playoffs.
Maurice may be no doctor, but he’s seen the effects of this ailment on his team this season.
It’s come and gone like the flu, but the Jets have always found a way to shake it.
“Everything we do is, how fast can we move, with the puck and without it?” Maurice said. “And we were off.
“Any of the symptoms that come after aren’t really important.”
The Medical Dictionary of Hockey Ailments lists several potential causes, among them fatigue, intimidation and lack of motivation.
All three can lead to a lack of focus, affecting the brain’s ability to send speed messages to the legs.
While players aren’t sure of the cause in Sunday’s 6-2 loss, they all saw the symptoms.
“That’s not our game,” Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey said. “We weren’t fast enough with the puck, making decisions, playing fast, trying to drive the tempo up. Also on defence, we didn’t have the speed going that we had in games 1 and 2.”
Fellow blue-liner Ben Chiarot put it another way.
“We were a step off,” he said. Perhaps it was a case of a young, inexperienced team relaxing after a dominant performance in Game 2, holding a subconscious belief that things would be easy.
That’s hard to believe, since the Jets to a man would have known the Wild, down 2-0 in the series and back home, would come out guns blazing.
The Jets were held back by weather — on a planned travel day Saturday, they flew into northern Minnesota and then back to Winnipeg.
Forward Andrew Copp theorizes being thrown off their routine by having to travel on the day of the game might have crossed some wires.
“We didn’t get our proper routine in for the day,” Copp said. “I felt pretty good physically, and across the board I think we did. Maybe our mental sharpness wasn’t there. Maybe that was a little bit of a factor.
“At the same time, it’s a playoff game. There’s no real excuses.”
Perhaps it was a combination of little things, like a recipe of several ingredients that you wouldn’t think individually would amount to anything but, combined, are pretty good.
A dash of complacency, a sprinkling of discomfort caused by the travel schedule, maybe even a pinch of intimidation — the crowd, so loud for the Jets in Winnipeg, did a 180, and the Wild came out hitting.
“They started building speed a little more in their own zone and we kind of let them do that,” Copp said. “It’s nothing crazy — just how hockey goes sometimes. We’ve had those games, those little random stinkers, in between really good stretches. So hopefully we get back to those good stretches (Tuesday) night.”
Those random stinkers, as Copp put it, even popped up as the Jets were playing lights-out hockey down the stretch.
A 6-2 loss in Chicago, for instance, was the only blemish as the Jets went 11-1 to close out the regular season.
One of the Jets who is rarely afflicted by the slowness disease didn’t sound too concerned about the outbreak on Sunday night.
“It’s not a death sentence by any means,” captain Blake Wheeler said. Not if they can find the antidote.
Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp, seen keeping the puck from Minnesota Wild defenceman Nick Seeler on Sunday in St. Paul, Minn., says there are “no real excuses” for their Game 3 loss.