The Winnipeg Jets had a good chance to defeat the New York Islanders last night. Not because they're an inferior opponent — the Islanders have crept to within six points of the playoffs with their 3-1 win at Winnipeg, by the way — but because the game was tied entering the third period.
Had the Islanders been leading the game as the final frame started, fuggedaboutit. The Jets are the only team in the NHL that hasn't come back to win a game when trailing after two periods this season, going an astonishing 0-20-3 when down by a goal or more entering the third.
They're not all that much better trailing after the first period: 2-14-1, with a .118 winning percentage that ranks them third-worst in the League, with Calgary and ahead of Dallas and Phoenix, who is 0-13-0 when trailing after one; 1-17-2 when trailing after two. Ouch.
Coach Claude Noel Captain Andrew Ladd has seen enough, and all but demanded that management add offensive talent to the roster before the trade deadline.
"With the troubles we've had scoring, if it's not going to come from within this room, we probably could use some help, there," he said. "We've got a great goaltender, we've got D that can move the puck and play both ways."
As far as Coach Claude Noel goes:
"Am I discouraged?" Noel repeated a question. "How do I look? I'm not real happy. It was a big game against an opponent we should have been able to beat."
It's not the first time the Jets threw in the towel far too easily, and too early. It's not even a conscious thing. But deep down, they seem to know they can't come from behind.
And that's because they can't, at least based on the stats this season. Winnipeg doesn't have 20-goal scorer. They have just six players in double-digits for goals. Their goals-for average this season (2.33) ranks them 25th in the NHL.
The Jets are four points out of a playoff spot. They are, and should be, buyers. Noel's right: The Jets have gotten plenty from Ondrej Pavelec, who has a 2.78 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 47 starts. It's time to give him some support.
(Ed. Note: Major quote screw up earlier, as I had something from Andrew Ladd attributed to Claude Noel. Apologies.)