The Winnipeg Jets' win streak came to an end in St. Paul, MN as the Minnesota Wild scored a late third period goal to beat the Jets 2-1. The Wild dominated the Jets in the first period, but were able to come out of the period only down by one. The Jets played a lot better in the second and were able to make a game of it (thankfully, for the sake of this recap), evening out the shot totals at the end of the period. The Jets were able to come out flying in the 3rd and a quick goal by Dustin Byfuglien evened the score. The Jets had a few chances to take the lead, but a bad icing, followed by a faceoff loss and poor defensive coverage by Mark Scheifele lead to the deciding goal for the Wild.
- Every team experiences injuries over the course of the season. Zach Bogosian's absence from the blue line led to questions about who would take his minutes. Claude Noel chose to make Byfuglien and Grant Clitsome his number one and number two defensemen and had Tobias Enstrom paired with Keaton Ellerby on the second pairing. Ellerby filled in admirably for Bogosian, playing 22 minutes and played his usual, smart and simply game. Clitsome, on the other hand, played like a number two defenseman. And by number two, I'm referring to the kind of number two that belongs in the toilet.
- Zach Redmond played his first NHL game since his gruesome injury that occurred in February of this year. Redmond played just over 11 minutes and struggled throughout the majority of the game. One has to wonder whether nerves played a factor in his play. However, he did make a few real nice defensive plays in the 3rd. Hopefully he can continue to get better and earn more playing time with the big club. Either way, it's great to see Redmond playing again.
- Ondrej Pavelec played another solid game, making 22 saves for a .917 save percentage. Unfortunately for the Jets, Josh Harding played just that much better making 21 saves for a .955 save percentage. Pavelec's play has been better the past few games and we can only hope that he continues to improve and play at a solid level consistently. Of course, workload will play a factor.
- Little, Ladd, and Wheeler continue to lead the way for the Jets. Little and Wheeler drew the assists on Byfuglien's goal and their line had several chances throughout the night. Wheeler continues to improve since the start of the season and if he continues to drive to the front of the net with speed, this line will continue to thrive.
- Evander Kane attempted to use his speed and drive down the side wall and took several shots off the wall that went off defenders' sticks and out of play. Kane did not have a good game and in an effort to get him going Claude shuffled the lines and placed Kane on a line with Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik. Kane and Scheifele showed flashes of chemistry earlier in the season. It will be interesting to see if Noel sticks with this line combination tomorrow night against Calgary.
- Noel's decision to put Kane on a line with Scheifele may not be just about trying to help Kane get back on the score sheet, but also a way to help Scheifele become an offensive contributor as well. Scheifele has shown flashes of improvement and his confidence has been starting to show in the last few games. However, as pointed out in my discussion with AIH editor, Ryan Blight, Scheifele has been a liability for the most part. He hasn't been able to produce offensively, he's soft on the puck, falls down a lot still, and much like what we saw in the GWG for the Wild, he isn't winning enough faceoffs and his defensive coverage is poor. If not for the Jets obvious lack of depth at center, Scheifele would most likely be in St. John's.
- Lastly, the atmosphere at Xcel Energy Place incredible, thanks in large part to the thousands of Jets fans that made the trip. In an interesting move by the Wild's national anthem singer, the Canadian national anthem was sang in french. Despite his best efforts, "TRUE NORTH" was heard loud and proud as Jets fans would not be denied. The rivalry in the stands was evident as Wild fans and Jets fans were heard taking turns cheering the teams in harmony with a "lets go Wild" chant followed by a "go Jets go" immediately after. Jets fans chants were booed by Wild fans at other times throughout the game and chants of Haaarrrrdddiiiiiinnnnnnggg were heard throughout the game as well. And to top it all off, a beer snake broke out in one section of the arena. The fans have helped make this the start of a great rivalry, now its up to the Jets to try to stay competitive against their southern rivals.