Jets look to keep sea­son off the skids

Sec­ond straight loss could be trou­ble, writes Paul Friesen.

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

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.

Paul Mau­rice

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