Monday, October 24, 2011

Game 3 - The Immelman Maneuver

Somehow, somewhere, this team found some heart. They found a way to change course during a game.

This is, as they say, a good thing.

Down 2-0 in the first 7 minutes, Claude Noel yanked Pavelec.  It seemed like a bit of a short hook, and you couldn't really blamed Pavelec for either goal - the first should have been blown dead before the Canes got their fourth whack at Pavelec, and the second was the result of 5 players crashing into the net.

But the swap worked. It woke the team up from what was, to that point, looking to be a repeat of the home opener - bad passes, a lack of energy, turnovers. The whole nine yards. The level of play in that first 7 minutes was just bad.

After the switch, though, the Jets played like they did against Pittsburgh. They made smart, crisp passes. They got pressure on the forecheck. They took the play to Carolina, so much so that the Canes only managed 1 shot on Mason in the last 13 minutes of the first. It also resulted in a pair of goals for the Jets, sending them to the locker room tied.

The second period was a continuation of the first. The Jets were flying, the Canes were on their heels. While the Jets didn't manage many shots, they made the most of them - 6 shots, 3 goals.

Suddenly, the home team was in control. They had a big lead! They were unstoppable!

Until the third.

The last 10 min. of the third period was a return to form. They got sloppy, they got lazy, they took penalties. A lot of penalties. It seemed like they wanted the Hurricanes to get back in the game.

The Jets held on, though. A lot of it had to do with some strong play by Mason, more than the rest of the team, though.

The Jets won't be able to count on this sort of thing regularly though. Noel's patience with a slow start will wear thin, I'm sure. If the team can't find a way to get themselves motivated and moving from the opening puck drop, it will be a long season. The coach shouldn't be needing to be find ways to wake his team up so early in the season. And not this many times, so early in the year. As a team, the players need to find a way to be ready at game time. They can't use the pressure from the crowd as an excuse - this isn't the home opener - we're past that. They should know that the crowd will be there for them, and make life difficult on the opponents (right, Brian BOO-SHAY?). What the crowd would like is a good reason to cheer right off the bat. Come out flying, come out with some energy! Come out looking like you want to be there.

On that note, it looks like Jim Slater might be on the shelf for a while. This is, bluntly, bad. Slater is tied with Wellwood for the team lead in goals. He's been one of the top three players on the team this year. His line has, night after night, been either the best or second best out there. Losing him is a big blow to the team. He brings it every single game, and losing him might take some of the spark out of that fourth line.

Talking about lines, though - as things have progressed, the second line is showing it really has some chemistry going. Burmistrov is great at maintaining possession, Wellwood is just plain puck-hungry and keeping the forecheck pressure on, as well as being a solid two-way player. Antropov just seems to click with the pair of them and - shocking to say - has been seen being a physical presence on the ice.

The first line... wel, Ladd picked up a goal, his second. A nasty knuckleball that bounced right in front of Boucher and then over his shoulder. Ugly, but it counted. The rest of the line has been starting to click and get some chances, but seem to have issues keeping the pressure on in the offensive end. Most of their chances come off the rush, and then the puck will be coming right back down the ice. There is far less cycling of the puck from these guys than the second or fourth lines.

Anyways, the team played hard for 45 minutes, and held on for a win. Let's see what happens tonight when an angry John Tortorella and the New York Rangers come to town.

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