Are The Winnipeg Jets Sitting Back With Leads?

Is It Sitting Back Or Is It A Push Back? 

Are the Winnipeg Jets sitting back with the lead in the third?  If so, do they really have a choice?

I always find it amusing when fans and media panic about the third period push back by teams trailing going into the third period.

BUT, when their team does it …. it’s a positive because they didn’t give up!!!  REALLY!!!

It’s not just here with the Winnipeg Jets.  This sentiment is prevalent with fans of all teams across the league.

I had to chuckle the other night when Jets coach Claude Noel was talking about their third period versus the Islanders and he stated:

Claude Noel 150

1.)  He didn’t enjoy the way they managed it.

2.)  Is it the ideal way to close out a game?

3.)  I don’t like the way we are doing it.

Really Coach Noel, do you actually think you had a choice?  How cute!!!  I wish I’d get/got a dollar for every time a coach said that.   

Anybody that has spent any time behind a bench coaching, AND it doesn’t even matter at what level, this is NO surprise.  A 12 year old B Division coach has seen it, a 14 year old AAA coach has seen it, a MJHL coach has seen it, a WHL coach has seen it and NHL coaches see it every night.

It’s not a revelation.  It’s human nature.  

My favorite is when the fans of the team fighting from behind state … “why didn’t they play like that the whole game”?  What?  Do you mean just play the top two lines and play the top four defencemen all game and tell them to pinch down on every loose puck in the offensive end with reckless abandon?  Dustin Byfuglien’s dream strategy!  Lets get down by two or three goals and the coach will let us go balls to the wall the rest of the game!!!

Of course, you know I’m just being facetious. 

You probably wouldn’t have much left in the tank after a couple of games unless you have twelve “Top Six” forwards and a bunch of studs on the blueline.  Maybe the old Montreal Canadiens, maybe the New York Islanders in their prime, the Gretzky Oilers or the WHA Jets could get away with that but even that’s debatable. 

Last time I checked, the closest thing we have to that is the Pittsburgh Penguins and to be honest they aren’t even close to the teams I just mentioned.  Even with the Pens immense amount of talent, they haven’t exactly run off multiple Stanley Cups have they?  Actually, they stink in comparison and I’m sorry I mentioned them.

Top Four Reasons Teams Seem To Be Sitting On A Lead

1.)  Basically, what it comes down to is if the home team is losing, they are always going to give it a big push.  I don’t make the rules ~ it just happens.  

2.)  Teams with the lead usually don’t forecheck as hard giving the trailing team an easier time coming out of their own end. 

3.)  Sometimes it’s as simple as a couple penalties setting you back on your heels especially if you’re on the road.  When this happens it is sometimes very hard to change the momentum.  

4.)  Sometimes and most importantly the trailing team is actually a better team even though the scoreboard says otherwise.    

Do coaches like it?  They say NO! (but I don’t believe them)  Do fans like it?  NO!  AND I’ll guarantee you the players aren’t loving it.  BUT, I’ll take a two goal lead into the third period and be accused of hanging on for dear life all day long if after sixty minute there is a big fat “W” posted more often than not. 

It beats the alternative of playing wide open and giving up late goals like we’ve witnessed for two years.

Bottom line is that when a team is trailing in the third period they shorten the bench.  They also gamble a little more with their defensemen.  Is this surprising to ANYBODY???  It’s amazing what “Top Six” NHL forwards can do for twenty minutes when the shackles are removed and the defence is given Carte Blanche on the offence.  There are reasons that this strategy hasn’t caught on full time.  NHL coaches already have enough gray hair, they don’t really need another ulcer and they don’t have the horses to institute such a bold strategy.  You also better have a goaltender that can stop two or three breakaways and three or four two on ones during this process.

Winning a hockey game by hanging on in the third period will do you a lot more good further down the road than winning a game in the sucky shootout.  Have I mentioned lately how much I abhor the shootout?  Sorry!!!  I’m on the verge of going off on another shootout rant.

It doesn’t matter how you win in regulation.  All that matters is you did.

The late Al Davis said it best.  “Just Win Baby!!!

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