JETS STALLED ONCE, BUT THAT’S HIS­TORY

Play­ers, coach vow they won’t be too slow for the Wild again, Paul Friesen writes.

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - Pfriesen@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/friesen­sun­media

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.

HAN­NAH FOS­LIEN/GETTY IMAGES

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.

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