Jets look to keep season off the skids
Second straight loss could be trouble, writes Paul Friesen.
The Winnipeg Jets have had an uncanny ability to avoid losing streaks this season. This isn’t the time to start one. Hockey operates on a Richter scale, of sorts, where the intensity and importance of games gradually increases as the season goes on.
So by the time we reach the playoffs, a game is worth double, maybe even triple a regularseason affair.
The NHL takes this into account when it hands out suspensions. Getting a one-game ban in the playoffs is like getting two or three during the season.
The same, I would argue, holds true for losing streaks.
The Jets — now deadlocked at a game apiece in the Western Conference final with the Vegas Golden Knights — never lost more than two consecutive games in regulation. And only twice all season did Winnipeg lose three in a row when you include overtime and shootouts.
If they keep it up in the playoffs, they’ll be playing for the Stanley Cup in a couple of weeks.
So far they’re on track: four wins in five games against Minnesota in Round 1 and a win-one, lose-one second-round series with Nashville.
We’ve seen the same trend against Vegas: the Jets taking Game 1, the Knights Game 2.
The next two are set for Las Vegas Wednesday and Friday and all the Jets need to do is win every other game the rest of this series.
You get the feeling a second straight loss would be troubling, if not crippling. The equivalent of losing five or six in a row during the season. The cost is often a lost season. When teams are as evenly matched as Winnipeg and Nashville were and as the Jets and Vegas appear to be through two games, a two-punch combination could well be enough to send one into the ropes and spell the beginning of the end.
Look what giving up two quick goals did to Vegas in Game 1 and to the Jets in a 3-1 loss in Game 2.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice acknowledged his players were rocked by those two goals in a four-minute span in the first period Monday.
They didn’t react well, playing their worst few minutes of hockey, and were lucky to not be down by three or four going into the break.
“When we’re chasing the game or down a goal or two, then we start giving up a little more,” Paul Stastny said. “Especially after we gave up that second one, then all of a sudden for a couple shifts we almost got out of the game we wanted to play and got super aggressive.”
Anyone who gets super aggressive in this series will pay for it because neither team needs many chances to finish.
“They’re opportunistic, kind of in the same sense we can be,” Jacob Trouba said. “If you give them a little light ... they’re going to take advantage of it.”
There’s been lots of talk this post-season about the importance of the first goal.
I’d argue the second one might be bigger.
Just like a second straight loss.