By: Adam Wazny | Sunday, February 10
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Al Montoya(35) celebrates a shutout with teammate Alexander Burmistrov (8) after defeating the Ottawa Senators 1-0 in Ottawa Saturday February 9, 2013. Winnipeg beat Ottawa 1-0. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
The game wasn't a hockey masterpiece, nor was it esthetically pleasing in any sense of the suggestion, but it looked pretty good for the Winnipeg Jets.
It would be easy to pick apart the Jets after a tight 1-0 win in Ottawa Saturday afternoon and say they barely got the job done. One goal underlines that premise. But if you haven't figured it out by now, and judging from some of the highs and lows the fanbase has demonstrated this season some haven't, doing just enough is exactly what the Jets are going to need to do to come out on top most nights.
The Jets (5-5-1) are not a true offensive juggernaut, which is why the coaching staff has made a point of trying to keep the puck out of their own net this season. The results have been mixed but you may have noticed the Jets aren't allowing a lot of glorious scoring chances against these days.
It's been a little dull, right? That's by design. It's a game plan built on the realization they won't blow many teams out of the building. They don't have the horses up front.
Winnipeg's leading scorer is defenceman Toby Enstrom (13 points). Two players (forwards Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler) are tied for the team lead with four goals apiece. The top goal-getter last year, Evander Kane, hasn't scored in six games and the much-ballyhooed early juice with centre Olli Jokinen appears to have lost its flavour.
The forward depth has also been slow to cook. Case in point: Defenceman Ron Hainsey (3) -- the target of most fan venom in this post-lockout world -- has more points than forwards Kyle Wellwood (2), Alex Burmistrov (2) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (2).
Before Ottawa, Winnipeg's last two wins came via overtime at MTS Centre. The margins for success are slim and that could be another reason why head coach Claude Noel continues to pull numbers out of a hat to form his offensive lines every other game. Forget chemistry; he may be trying to keep things from getting stale.
Saturday's one-goal output came off the stick of Ponikarovsky, who deflected a Wellwood past goaltender Ben Bishop at the 5:57 mark of the third period. That the game was still up for grabs after two periods speaks to Winnipeg's sputtering offence. The Sens played it casual in their own end, turning the puck over 11 times to the Jets through the first 40 minutes.
Ottawa's charges were careless: during one moment of the game three different Senators players over-skated the puck with no Jets pressure around them; all eventually turned it over to Winnipeg. The game winner came off of -- that's right, you guessed it, another Sens turnover.
Again, it's about slim margins and falling on the right side of the line for Winnipeg.
As the forwards finally cobbled together a goal from the charitable Sens, the Jets defence blocked 22 shots in front of goaltender Al Montoya, who stopped another 33 pucks for his first shutout since Feb. 19, 2011 (as a member of the New York Islanders). Staying on script, his effort wasn't a Monet, either -- a few misplaced rebounds were brushed aside with the occasional snow angel in the crease -- but he turned in a solid performance in just his second start of the season.
Montoya got the start thanks to the poor health of starter Ondrej Pavelec, who picked up the flu during the short trip to the nation's capital.
Is there a goaltending controversy in Winnipeg now? Pavelec has made fans ill with his play of late, posting an .827 save percentage in his last five games, so we shall see what the next couple days bring regarding the Jets net.
Winnipeg opens a three-game home stand Tuesday night, when the Philadelphia Flyers visit MTS Centre.