It must get old to provide the same cliches over and over again when you’re on a losing team. Blake Wheeler finally seemed to let loose on Saturday following the Winnipeg Jets’ 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars.
“We’ve been blowing smoke for three years, everyone, myself, everyone that’s stood in front of a microphone in the last three years, we’ve said the same [blank],” Wheeler said, via the Winnipeg Free Press’ Gary Lawless. “What do you want me to say? That’s about it. I don’t know what else to say.”
One can see why Wheeler & Co. are fuming.
The Jets have lost three games in a row, as today’s defeat put Winnipeg under .500 on the season (14-15-5). The franchise has only made the playoffs once, and that was as the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006-07.
It’s enough to make Lawless wonder about accountability.
so the question to me, and has been for some time, when will #nhljets leadership group take accountability on the ice?
To be fair to Wheeler, the 27-year-old is one of the team’s most dependable producers, especially lately. He’s found the net twice in each of the last two games and has eight points in his last six contests. The budding power forward hasn’t seen the postseason since he played for Boston in 2009-10.
Perhaps something dramatic – maybe a key player letting loose following a frustrating loss – is needed for the Jets to finally start turning things around?
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.
John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.
Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.