Facing off against old demons

By: Adam Wazny | Monday, January 21

The Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron scores on Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec during a shootout in Boston on Jan. 21. The Bruins won 2-1. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

It's only fitting, one supposes, that in this condensed, 48-game NHL schedule the Winnipeg Jets already find themselves facing off against old demons.

This has nothing to do with last year's road record, either.

The Jets (0-1-1) picked up their first point in this young campaign following a 2-1 shoot-out loss to the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden Monday afternoon.

But let's hit pause on the game for a second and check in with the big picture concerning the Jets: Another afternoon game, another defeat for Winnipeg.

Go back to the 2011-12 season for a moment and recall how the Jets performed when playing with the sun still above the horizon.

Winnipeg participated in six afternoon games (start times between noon and 4 p.m.) and managed just one win and three of a possible 12 points. This has to change.

Whether it's on the coaching staff to get the players ready to go, or the players themselves to figure out how to set their personal alarm clocks a few hours earlier, it doesn't matter: the Jets simply aren't good enough to take days off and in the case of the Monday game -- where an unexpected shootout point in Boston is something they'll take, no doubt -- they need to find a way to secure the two points.

The Jets have nine more afternoon shifts left to play in 2013; four of those coming at MTS Centre.

Winnipeg's other recurring scheduling nightmare last season involved the dreaded second game of a back-to-back situation, a quick turnaround that the Jets never managed to get turned around.

Incredibly, the Jets earned three of a possible 26 points last year (1-11-1) -- a trend that needs to be corrected if they have any hope of keeping any playoff interest alive into April.

No time to erase those memories like the present for Winnipeg. The Jets are back on the ice Tuesday evening when they face the Washington Capitals in the U.S. capital (6 p.m.). The Southeast Division matchup is the first of eight back-to-backs for the club this season; seven of those will come on the road.

Now back to the Boston game. The Jets opened the scoring thanks to a Chris Thorburn goal two minutes into the game but, just as they did against Ottawa Saturday afternoon, turned the puck over in their own zone and watched the opposition square the game before the first period ended.

From there, the clubs settled into a hockey oddity for the final 40 minutes: lots of chances on both ends, but not many shots on goal.

The teams combined to ring five pucks off the post -- four of those off Boston sticks. The Bruins also hit a cross bar behind Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

To be honest, if you're a Winnipeg fan, it probably shouldn't have even reached the shootout.

The Jets had two four-on-three power play advantages in the overtime session, but couldn't find the winning tally. For those scoring at home, Winnipeg is one-for-10 with the man advantage after two games.

Head coach Claude Noel, obviously looking for something resembling chemistry within his forward group, shuffled his lines in the third period. Gone from the Bryan Little-Andrew Ladd-Blake Wheeler line was Little, who drifted over to the wing to play with Olli Jokinen-Evander Kane duo.

Nik Antropov moved up between Ladd and Wheeler, while rookie Mark Scheifele moved up from his fourth-line role to play with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alexander Burmistrov.

The odd man out was winger Kyle Wellwood. He wasn't used much in the third period, as Noel wanted more speed and size up front.

Opinion

Adam Wazny is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer who has covered sports in the city for over a decade. He has worked as a reporter for both the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Sun, and now spends most of his time checking his Twitter. Did someone say Twitter? Find him here: @wazoowazny.

Photo Gallery