The Winnipeg Jets took a 3-1 lead early in the third period, but were unable to seal the deal. In fact, the Jets were still leading 3-2 with just under 3 minutes to go, but were unable to stave off the Avs, who took the game in a shoot-out.
(1) Key Play of the Game With just under 3 minutes to play, Ryan O'Reilly crossed the Jets' blueline and fed the puck to Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog came in on his off-wing, and let go a fairly weak shot from the top of the right circle - a half-slapper on a rolling puck. While the shot was never going to beat an NHL goalie, at that exact moment, O'Reilly was streaking toward the net. The puck just happened to hit him, and somehow find its way to the back of the net, tying the game at 3. Immediately, the Jets defenders looked deflated - you could almost see that "why me" expression on their face. Or perhaps what they were really saying was "why you" - as in, why couldn't you (Pavelec) have put that rebound anywhere else.
(2) Scheifele Scores With only 10 points heading into tonight's game, Mark Scheifele had been slumping. Well, not anymore. Scheifele threw the monkey off his back in a big way, leading the Jets' offence with a goal and 2 assists, capped off by a terrific snipe where he walked into the slot and went high blocker off the left post. While the game was an obvious set-back to the team, let's hope it was a turning point for Scheifele, who absolutely needs to start contributing regular offence if the Jets are to make a season-long push towards the playoffs.
(3) Was the Clash of Captains a Turning Point? Mid-way through the second period, the captains decided to throw down - Andrew Ladd vs Gabriel Landeskog. You'll see it in every highlight package and given that the Avs won the game, I assume that some observers will suggest that it was a turning point. But was it? Decide for yourself based on the following. The game was tied 1-1 at this point, and the shots were fairly even. The Jets actually ended up scoring the next two goals of the game, and taking a 3-1 lead, as well as taking a decided edge in shots (16-4 in the second). But if Don Cherry was watching this game, you know that Landeskog was his star of the game for "standing up for his team". In the end, I'm not suggesting the fight was good or bad for either team, more that it had no bearing on the outcome of the game.
(4) Should Pavelec have started tonight? Based on the result tonight, it's easy to say no. 3 goals allowed on 26 shots, giving up a lead with just over 2 minutes to go. But that isn't even the point. Prior to writing this recap, I asked myself this question. "Should Pavelec be starting tonight". I had no particular premonition that the Avs would manage to beat the Jets, but the result of this game isn't the reason I question Pavelec getting the start. The reason is simply - the play of Michael Hutchinson, who hasn't allowed more than two goals in a game since October 12th. And in that time, he's unbeaten in regulation! And yet, Paul Maurice decided to rotate his goalies.Why? Perhaps he didn't want to alienate Pavelec. Maybe he doesn't want to put too much pressure on Hutchinson. Maybe he thinks it's a long season and he can't get his team to the promised land with only one goalie going. But in the end, did he make the right choice tonight? In my opinion, no.
(5) Mark Stuart - pick a side and stay there bra I've noted in previous posts how Mark Stuart has a tendency to be over-aggressive in the defensive end. In this game, it led directly to Colorado's first goal. Stuart came out to challenge the puck carrier - Ryan O'Reilly, forcing him to veer off towards his d-partner, Jacob Trouba. At this point, it might have been smart to pull a switch, and let Trouba handle the man who was now on his right (Trouba, already standing to the right of Stuart). Instead, Stuart continues to float further from the left-side of the ice - and thus completely misses the net drive by Matt Duchene. By the time the play is over, Stuart is literally at the right face-off dot and Duchene has the puck in the back of the net. Ironically, it even looks like someone else is at fault - his left winger - Andrew Ladd, appears to be the cuplrit on the back check. However, one should realize that it's virtually impossible for anyone to handle Matt Duchene on the back-check, and conclude that the left d-man should probably have stayed on his damn side of the ice. Seen this movie before? I have. Will we see it again? Undoubtedly.
(6) Jets come close in OT Despite the late-game collapse, the Jets had a number of great chances in OT. The Jets always have been a dangerous team in extra-time, given their size and speed, and the abundance of space available at 4-on-4. Ladd, Little, and Wheeler all had chances to end it, but Pickard persevered, ultimately taking first star honours before a home crowd in Denver. The narrative for this game would be very different had the visitors been able to capture victory.
(7) Ben Chiarot Is Ben Chiarot an NHL defenceman? An actual NHL defenceman? He's 23, and has played only a handful of games at the NHL level. And yet he's playing top-4 minutes - 20:11 tonight - and broke up some dangerous scoring chances late in the game, and in OT. To be placed in those situations given his (lack of) experience shows the trust he's already established with the coaching staff (or a lack of other options), and it'll be very interesting to see what happens if/when the standard blueliners gets all patched up. Given his youth, solid play, not to mention the possibility of him being stolen on waivers, many believe that someone else - Pardy or Clitsome - should be the waiver casualty.
(8) The Jets PP The Jets went 2 for 4 on the pp tonight against an Avs team who came into the game as the 4th best pk in the NHL (statistically). Yes - it's still early, so it's hard to trust the stats there, as Colorado certainly isn't known for their defensive prowess, but nonetheless it's nice to see the Jets getting on the board with the an advantage. Particularly noteworthy was the 2nd goal, scored by Paul Postma. While it was a broken play off a Scheifele centreing attempt, Postma jumped up at the right time, and was rewarded with a big goal, as the Jets took a 2-1 lead. Postma's career upside is likely as a #5, PP quarterback, and it's nice to see him getting an opportunity and taking advantage of it.
(9) Calvin Pickard Calvin makes for a nice storyline if you're part of the Avs' media - Winnipeg boy gets first star in a must-win game against his home-town team. And he's a rookie. AND he's a goalie. And he started the year in the AHL, and has been sent back and recalled 3 separate times. And his coach is a former goalie, and Hockey Hall of Famer who anointed him starter - at least until last year's Vezina nominee, Semyon Varlamov, returns from injury. Yeah, that reads real nice. A nicer story for Jets fans would have been "Winnipegger puts up valiant effort in loss to Jets".
(10) Jacob Trouba Jacob Trouba played 29:33 tonight. Yes, there was OT, but still, that was only 25 seconds below Buff's game high 29:58. When will the rest of the league take notice of this burgeoning talent? Last year, TSN did a player face-off, where similar players were pitted against each other, and successively eliminated in order to determine who the most valuable NHL player was. Naturally, Trouba faced off against fellow US d-man, Seth Jones. Virtually everyone who doesn't watch Trouba on a nightly basis believes that Jones will have a more distinguished career, based on greater offensive upside, but Trouba, who is already so good at both ends of the ice - seems poised to become a dominant defenceman in his own right. The fact that he's this good at 20 is scary - the size, speed, and overall skating ability is very impressive, but his composure and resilience are equally crucial to his long-term success. While many young players would get down on themselves after a mistake - and he does make mistakes like any young defenceman - Trouba seems not to be phased by failure. If the Olympics host NHL'ers in 2018, you have to imagine Trouba makes that squad, and it wouldn't surprise me if he becomes a Norris Trophy nominee somewhere down the line.
The Jets' next game is at home on Saturday versus Anaheim. What did you think of tonight's game? Share your thoughts below.