Coaches talk about it, players talk about, media people talk about it. Coaches try and prevent it, players try and prevent it. BUT it still happens.
It's the home game after a long road trip. Try as players and coaches do, it's very seldom a good game for the home team. Why, who knows. If there was a clear cut answer, coaches would take care of it. Over the years I have seen it happen so many times. In the end, the crowd did it's part, the team could not. 5-2 Panthers the final.
Yet, the first two minutes were very good for the Jets. Evander Kane had two great chances to open the scoring, and that may have brought the roof off the MTS Centre. Then, as so often happens in these games, a bounce off Zach Bogosian's skate right onto the stick of Kris Versteeg and the Panthers score on their first shot on goal, no chance for Ondrej Pavelec.
Then a call that you could argue was not a good one, a team struggling on the PK and it's 2-0, and it seemed the Jets lost some of their fight. The bad part was no response in the second period as the Panthers on a delayed penalty call and a power play made it a 4-0 game, holding the Jets to just 10 shots. In one stretch from the first to the second the Jets went 23 minutes without a shot on goal. Not good enough.
Third period enter Peter Mannino. He has been with the team since the injury at the start of the road trip to Chris Mason. In the third, the Jets were very good. They outshot the Panthers 17-5, and made it a game, but it was not enough. An empty netter by Versteeg and he had his first NHL hat trick.
Tim Stapleton started things in the third with his first of the year. "You can't spot teams four goals. This is the NHL. We didn't use our speed, our best players were not our best players. The best fans in the NHL got us going in the third." Andrew Ladd had the other Jets goal.
Coach Claude Noel did not hold back in his post game news conference. "We were poor for a good portion of the game. Simply a lack of intensity. We played five minutes of the first, and 20 minutes in the third. If you can play good for 20, you can play good for 60. We had very few good players tonight from the goaltender out. We wanted to use our speed, be physical, get pucks in deep. We didn't. Lots of poor decisions."
As for the 'first game home after a road trip", coach was not buying it. "Bad excuse. Poor performance. Simple as that."
So now it's practice Friday, then back on the road for a single in Columbus, where Scott Arniel's team is really struggling.
Monday the Jets are home to Tampa, Tuesday is the skills competition, Thursday Washington is here, Saturday afternoon the Flyers are here.
A reminder about the family skate at MTS Centre Saturday afternoon before the Santa Claus parade. Be there and enjoy the fun. Check the TSN 1290 website for more details.
It's a fun event with proceeds to the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation and the NHLPA Goals and Dreams Fund. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
Who has the hardest shot, Bogosian or Byfuglien? Is Kane the fastest skater, does Wellwood have the most accurate shot (league stats would indicate that)? Players enjoy entertaining and it's an enjoyable evening.
Jets are still minus Hainsey, Meech, Jones and Enstrom on the back end. Not one of them is close to returning. Eric Fehr has been cleared for contact, so that is a step in the right direction. But with so little practice time it will be tough to get that contact. They may have to draw up some drills simply to get him some contact.
It was great to see a number of ex-NHLers at the game on Thursday. They were in town for Mike Keane's celebrity hockey day.
Bryan Little won 75% of his faceoffs. That after a couple of tough outings against the Rangers and Sabres. Jim Slater had 6 shots on goal, Dustin Byfuglien played 24:44.
Jets have played fewer home games and more road games than any other team in the NHL.