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Instant Recap: Jets Grounded in Vancouver

The Jets played the game like they planned to, but the Canucks were just better tonight.

Rich Lam

The Winnipeg Jets flew into Vancouver on Sunday night to kick off a two-game trip through western Canada before the Christmas break.  The Jets are fresh off of a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday evening.  The Canucks on the other hand were red hot, going 8-1-1 in their last ten including a 3-2 shootout win against the Blackhawks on Friday night.  It was only the second time that Jets 2.0 faced the club that their ownership group and local media members used to be well acquainted with.

The game started off at a quick pace with the Canucks getting a majority of the quality chances.  Both the Jets and the Canucks staff like to preach team defence as a strategy, but it was not on display on both ends of the ice early.  The Jets were one second away from killing off their second shorthanded situation of the period when Brad Richardson tipped in a Dan Hamhuis point shot to open the scoring.  They had an opportunity to clear the puck as Evander Kane was about to hop out of the penalty box but they turned the puck over instead.  The play levelled out after that and it appeared that the Jets began to settle into the flow of the game.  After exchanging words earlier, Anthony Peluso, who was back after serving a 3 game suspension, and Tom Sestito had a spirited tilt(which didn’t result in a goal for either team).  As the officials cleaned the equipment off the ice, Roberto Luongo left the ice and went to the Canucks dressing room and was replaced by Eddie Lack.

Roberto Luongo did not come out to start the second period and the Canucks announced that he would not return.  The play really started to tighten up and the scoring chances were fewer and further between.  Dustin Byfuglien nearly tied things up halfway through the period but Eddie Lack slid across his crease and made a nice save on a shot that may have been slightly fanned on by Byfuglien.  The Jets however were able to tie things up with Daniel Sedin in the box.  Former Vancouver Giant Evander Kane, who also grew up in Vancouver put home a perfect Blake Wheeler feed.  That proved to be the only by either team in the second period.

The third period was very tightly contested.  It was the type of period that you would expect a John Tortorella coached team to play.  Most of the period was played along the boards and neither team was given very much space to generate any offence.  The Canucks were able to take the lead for good when Chris Tanev was able to put a point shot home through a mess of traffic to make it 2-1.  It was an unfortunate way for the Jets to lose as both Canucks goals were well placed, seeing-eye shots from the point.

This was a game that most hockey people would consider to be a well played game well at the same time, most casual fans would call it boring.  Each team went into the game with an obvious plan and they both did a pretty good job enacting their plans.  The top line for both teams were kept off of the score sheets and most scoring chances were well earned.  It turns out the Canucks executed the plan just a little bit better than the Jets.  It shouldn’t be a surprised to most as the Canucks are a team that are quite a bit better on paper.

Ten Thoughts

1) I’m sorry, maybe I’m missing something here, why did the Jets call up the 6th leading scorer in the AHL and pair him up with James Wright and Anthony Peluso?  Eric O’Dell has obviously got to where he has by scoring and he will not be able to assert his scoring talent with those two guys.  He is being set up to fail.

2) While O’Dell is playing on the 4th line, Devin Setoguchi and Olli Jokinen are struggling to produce any sort of scoring with Chris Thorburn as a linemate.  This is the 10th game that this line has been together.  They combined for 7 points in the first game.  They have combined for 8 points in the 9 games since.  Setoguchi and Jokinen are paid to score and they cannot do that with an anchor on their line.

3) It wasn’t really picked up by the broadcast team, but the first goal was a result of a terrible clearing attempt by Dustin Byfuglien.  Charlie Huddy needs to sit down with Byfuglien and figure out how they can make his game more simple.  His game is so much a high risk, high reward game.  It would be nice sometimes to bring it to a more neutral place.

4) Jacob Trouba and Mark Stuart seem to take turns getting each other into trouble.  It just seems like they are having a hard time playing together.  With all the injuries on defence, Noel has really been playing with the pairings and this one is not working out very well for Trouba

5) I got myself into trouble with Canuck fans earlier today by pointing out that Ryan Kesler was soft.  I was told that I am not allowed to have an opinion because I am from Winnipeg, which is apparently an inferior city,  and I don’t have enough twitter followers. I am more than willing though to admit that he played really well tonight.  He had no problems going to the tough spots on the ice and he generated several good scoring chances for himself.  I really liked his game today.

6)  Mark Scheifele looks really comfortable out there.  He spent the first 20 or 35 games this year looking like a boy amongst men and he is finally starting to look comfortable.  He seems to be falling less which I think is a result of him being more adept at finding space on the ice.  This is a really good sign that things are slowing down for him.

7)  It really seems like the Little/Ladd/Wheeler line is unable to have a mediocre game.  Either they are out there stirring up all sorts of trouble for the opposing team or they are completely invisible.  They weren’t a hindrance to their team by any means, but they weren’t really generating chances.

8)  It is so quiet at the Rogers Arena.  I know that team is used to success and that Sunday games against Winnipeg in December really don’t get Vancouverites excited, but it was a library in there with the exception of the Jets fans.  I sure hope it doesn’t get like that here.  It is trending in that direction and it’s scary.

9) The Jets are still seeming to show an inability to show any fluidity in their transition game coming out of their own end.  They make high risk passes, blind passes and really just run into trouble.  It’s almost like the scheme that they have is catered for teams far more skilled than they are.

10)  The Jets have greatly improved in the faceoff circle.  They haven’t really improved much on the stats table as they are still at 46.5%, but they have done it all with their best faceoff guy on the injured list.  Mark Scheifele and Olli Jokinen definitely seem more competent.  It should get a lot better once Jim Slater comes back.