'Blowing smoke for three years' Saturday’s loss reveals Jets issues

Actions are supposed to speak louder than words. But it was the words of Jets forward Blake Wheeler that stood out most following a 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday afternoon.
Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) scores his second goal against Dallas Stars' Jamie Oleksiak (5) and goaltender Kari Lehtonen (32) as Jets' Andrew Ladd (16)v�looks on during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, December 14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods (The Canadian Press)

Actions are supposed to speak louder than words.  

But it was the words of Jets forward Blake Wheeler that stood out most following a 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday afternoon. His post game message summed up what many had already assumed but didn’t know, and offered a glimpse of the kind of frustration brewing in a Jets locker room that has now lost three consecutive games and six straight at home. 

“You can blow smoke as much as you want in the media,” said a dejected Wheeler, who finished the game with two goals and was by far the best Jet on that night. “We’ve been blowing smoke for three years. Everyone. Myself, every that’s stood in front of a microphone the last three years. We said the same shit. I mean, what do you want me to say?

“We were terrible in the first period. After a kind of a gut-wrenching loss to Colorado (Tuesday), normally our team has been better after we’ve had tough losses.”

With the loss, the Jets drop below the even mark, falling to 14-15-5 on the year. The Jets head out of town claiming just 1 of a possible six points, magnified the fact they were all divisional games. 

“The game was disappointing,” head coach Claude Noel said during his postgame presser. “I don’t think we played a very intelligent game.”

That may be understatement of the year as brain farts were galore for the Jets in this one. Two bad line changes from defencemen Grant Clitsome and then Dustin Byfuglien led to the Stars first two goals. An Anthony Peluso five-minute boarding penalty on Stars defenceman, Alex Goligoski, would add another couple to the scoreboard, officially putting the game out of reach for the Jets. 

“It’s the same thing over and over for me,” opined a frustrated Andrew Ladd. “The first two goals are just terrible changes so that’s just mental stuff that to me, quite frankly, is embarrassing.

“That five minute power play was one we needed to kill off. Up to that point we were still in the game. Even giving up those chances it was still 3-3. Then you end up going to the third down 5-3 and you’re doing things out of the system, trying to make things happen which we shouldn’t be doing but then the game gets away from you even more.”

The Jets have further secured their spot in the basement of the Central division. The Stars were tied with Winnipeg heading in to the game, but are now two points up with a healthy three games in hand. 

When asked why his team was unable to get up for such an important game in the season, Noel had little to offer. 

“We took a step back for sure cause I haven’t seen us play this way in quite some time,” he said. “Collectively as a group we didn’t play very intelligent and what is that? Is that fatigue? Sometimes it is. I don’t know what it is but I haven’t seen us play this way. 

Bobbled pucks: It was Ondrej Pavelec bobble-head day, but it was the fans that were left with their heads shaking. Pavelec was pulled from the net to start the third period after he allowed five goals on 24 shots. 

Shining bright: The Jets may want to create some trouble at the border for Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin the next time Dallas comes to town. The dangerous duo had the hot hand against the Jets once again, combining for three of Dallas’ six goals. In two games at the MTS Centre this year, Benn and Seguin have combined for seven goals and seven assists for an impressive 14 total points. 

Worth a second look: Towards the end of the opening period, rookie Mark Scheifele was on receiving end of a Ryan Garbutt hit, sending him flying in to the Jets bench. You could tell the Jets young gun felt it, as he was seen nursing some pain on the bench afterwards, but didn’t miss a beat. 

Up next: The Jets head east for back-to-back roads games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres starting Monday. Both teams have season records below the Jets. 

Columbus (14-15-3) is clinging to 10th in the Eastern Conference but have made strides of late, winning their last two games. The Sabres (7-23-3) are dead last in the NHL and have won just four of 17 games at home.

Three Stars: 

First star - Jamie Benn, DAL

He said he needed to have a big game against the Jets and he did just that. The Stars captain scored twice in the game and was a plus-2 in 18:04 of ice time.  

Second star - Blake Wheeler, WPG

Second straight game Blake Wheeler has been the stand out player for the Jets. The top line winger scored twice, giving his team the spark needed to win the game. Too bad they couldn’t return the favour. 

Third star - Tyler Seguin

There’s no doubt that he’ll be circling the date on his calendar for when the next time he’s in Winnipeg. Seguin has come to own Winnipeg, posting four-point games in both matches at the MTS Centre this season. That’s two goals and two assists kind of good. 

About the Author

Jeff Hamilton

Winnipeg Jets

Jeff Hamilton is an award-winning journalist born and raised in Winnipeg. Jeff is a graduate of the Carleton University journalism program and has worked for CBC in Ottawa and Manitoba. This will be his second year covering his hometown team. Jeff is passionate about hockey, playing and has studied the game his entire life.


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