After giving up the game's first goal late in the first, the Jets scored 5 straight goals in a beat down of the Buffalo Sabres. The game's star was Mark Scheifele, who potted 2 goals and added an assist. Evander Kane also got on the score sheet with his 5th of the year.
(1) Mark Scheifele enjoyed playing tonight, and we enjoyed watching him. With his team down 1-0, Scheifele took a short pass from Grant Clitsome, dragged the puck towards the centre of the ice, and let go a wicked shot, top-left corner the net things up at 1. Then, he came down on a two-on-one with Mathieu Perreault and finished a great pass to put the Jets up 3-1. He also added an assist on the Kane goal. I don't think there's much doubt that Scheifele is the best one-shot scorer on this team - his release is sublime - and as his confidence grows, we'll probably see more games like this from the 21-year-old.
(2) Ondrej Pavelec was good tonight. The Jets took several penalties in the first period - included a 5-on-3 with Clitsome and Pardy in the box - and Pavelec helped hold down the fort. He let in just one in the first, off a heavily screened shot, and then had a fairly quiet night, stopping another 16 shots. He finished the game with 27 saves and 1 goal allowed, and took home third star of the night. After his play tonight, Pavelec deserves another chance to impress on Friday against Boston.
(3) Mathieu Perreault is an impressive fellow. As Mark Scheifele told Sara Orlesky at intermission, Perreault's vision, patience, and puck control are an impressive combo, which makes him really easy to play with. Not only did he set up Scheifele's second goal of the game, but he also made a nice set up to Scheifele earlier in the game (though Scheifele missed the net). Perreault is also surprisingly strong on the puck for a small guy - listed 5'10, 185 - and he's the type of player who can create a chance out of nothing, when most others would dump the puck in, or give the puck away. At $3M, he's the best free agent signing the Jets have ever made, by a mile.
(4) Speaking of players with good contracts, there's Michael Frolik. Although Scheifele was the star of the game, Frolik probably had the play of the game - short-handed, he chipped the puck out of his end, made a beeline for the net, and finished off a nice pass from Jim Slater to score his 3rd short-handed goal of the season, and second against Buffalo. Not only did he put his team up 2-1, but it further pushed momentum to Winnipeg's side, and after Scheifele scored the 3rd goal, you could feel that the Sabres didn't have a hope of winning this game. Frolik doesn't have the best finishing or play-making ability, but he's quick, smart, and has no obvious weaknesses in his game. It'll be very interesting to see how contract talks play out - he can be re-signed anytime after January 1st, and Gary Lawless reported today that Frolik would be interested in opening contract talks early in the new year.
(5) The Sabres were 10-3 coming into this game, but you wouldn't have known it. After the Sabres first period edge in shots - 12-8 - Winnipeg peppered Buffalo 28-16 in the last two. Furthermore, I can't think of any great scoring chances the Sabres had in the final two periods. You could say the Sabres were tired after playing last night in Ottawa, or you could say the Jets were desperate, and spurred after losing yet another key player, but regardless, the Jets were in complete control of this game after Frolik's goal put them up 2-1.
(6) Although they weren't great tonight, it's scary to think that Buffalo might have their future top defence pairing, taken in a single NHL Entry Draft. I'm speaking of Rasmus Ristolainen - a big, smooth skating, right-shot Fin, and Nikita Zadorov, a huge, and offensively gifted, left-handed Russian. While it's unusual to pair such young defencemen together, apparently it hasn't been an issue over the previous 13 games (again, 10-3). In this particular game however, Ristolainen was -2, while Zadorov was -3.
(7) I've found a new comparison for (hopefully) future Jet, Nic Petan. After some comparing him to Martin St. Louis, based on his stature, and others to David Desharnais, again because of stature, I've decided that Nic Petan projects most closely to Tyler Ennis - mostly based on stature. Jokes aside, Ennis is 5'9, came out of the WHL, played on Canada's World Junior team, is a slick puck-distributing centre, and played a year in the AHL before being promoted to the NHL. The first four things already apply to Petan, and I expect that he too will spend some time in the AHL. (Hopefully Petan will equal his AHL accomplishments too - Ennis was rookie of the year in 2009-2010).
(8) Does anyone think Anthony Peluso can be anything more than just an enforcer? I'm not saying he's a top-6 guy, but he has surprising hands for someone who could barely get in the lineup in the not too distant past. The wrap-around he made today which led to Thorburn's goal certainly isn't a common play for 4th line scrubs. He also made a great play recently - I believe against Colorado - flying down the right side and splitting the D with an outside-in move. He has had some trouble in his own end in recent games, but he's only played about 70 career games, and 7 minutes a night at that, so he's still getting acclimatized. With the right contract - ahem, currently makes half of Chris Thorburn's $1.2M - Peluso is a nice depth player for the Jets.
(9) No tears for Jacob Trouba tonight - Paul Postma took his spot alongside Mark Stuart, and looked confident moving the puck out of his zone, and jumping into the play in the offensize zone.Ben Chiarot also continued his strong play, with 18 minutes, including 17 at even-strength. I'm not saying that the Jets won't miss Trouba - they certainly will - but the next month will be very interesting, and will give Cheveldayoff precious evaluation time to discover how good these young defencemen are.
(10) Did anyone check out highlights from around the league tonight? It seems like the stick snap was a popular move - Mike Green snapped his over the cross-bar after a horrendous giveaway led to a Florida goal, and Nikita Zadorov did it in this game as well. It's definitely a common move after a late/OT goal in an important game, but I'm not accustomed to seeing it early in regulation around the 32-game mark of the season. Regardless, it wasn't our guy, so yippee! Go Jets!