Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel has a lot of issues to sort out with his team, but one area that’s driving him mad is penalties.
The Jets have averaged five penalties per game this season but in the last three games they’ve had six, six and seven. And it doesn’t help that the Jets’ penalty killing is ranked 25th in the league.
“There’s just too many [penalties]” Noel said this morning after the Jets took a pre-game skate in preparation for Saturday night’s game against Tampa Bay.
A lot of Jet infractions have been stick fouls such as hooking, tripping and slashing.
“You can’t lead with your stick when you are fore-checking,” said Noel. “That’s just inevitable that you are going to get called on some of those.”
He also takes some issue with the refereeing.
“I can’t say that I’ve liked a lot of the calls. I don’t mind the calls if they are going both ways. If that’s the standard that you want to set for the first half of the game then let’s see it throughout the game. I see some that we’re getting called on and I don’t see the same thing and to me that’s the only upsetting part for me.”
For Noel the bottom line for Saturday’s game will be cutting the number of penalties in half from recent games. “Specifically for me it would be just let’s cut down from five to three. I can deal with that however that happens.”
Scoring power play goals isn’t a big issue for the Lightning, since the club is far better five on five.
“We don’t get power plays anymore,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said Saturday morning after his team practiced. “We get one a game or two max. We haven’t counted on our power play since the beginning of the year, we don’t want to either.”
Tampa Bay is first in the NHL with 25 goals scored at full strength, something Boucher takes pride in.
“I think last year we saved our butts [with the power play]for the first three months of the year. We had power plays a lot and we scored a lot on them and it kind of put a band aid on the five-on-five game. This year it’s the opposite, it forces us to play better five on five, which I like.”
The Jets will be starting Ondrej Pavelec in goal Saturday night. He has been pulled twice in recent games for letting in quick goals. Noel will have to think twice about pulling Pavelec tonight since regular back up Chris Mason is injured. As a result, the Jets have called up Peter Mannino from the club’s farm team in St. John’s.
The Lightning will start Dwayne Roloson for the first time since Oct. 17 when he let in seven goals on 33 shots in a 7 to 1 loss to Florida.