After having lost five of their last six, the Winnipeg Jets seemed due for a righting of the ship. What we got was a 7-0 dumpster fire of a loss to the Nashville Predators, one which felt over with five minutes left in the 1st, mostly because it was. If you want a quick summary of the game, here it is:
If you want something a bit more long-winded, here are eleven thoughts:
0. Mark Stuart: The Origin
Which #wpgjets player goes to the box first?— Rand Vee (@randallevee) November 14, 2015
@randallevee had this fun little Twitter poll up before the game, asking the penalty question we all had in our heads, even if we didn't realize it. I was smart and picked the field, mostly because it's Byfuglien's late game antics, not early ones, which are seared into my memory.
Now you might say that Winnipeg killed the penalty, no harm no foul. But the Jets' game seemed off from early on in the Music City, and I remain convinced that Stuart's early penalty had a role in that. It can be important to establish a flow, a rhythm to one's game, especially for a team struggling of late. Special teams within the first two minutes of a game will hinder that.
1. Red rover, red rover, send Dustin Byfuglien over
Mark Stuart will come up again, don't you worry, but he wasn't the only Jets defenceman with rather suspect moments this game. Take for instance Nashville's 2nd goal from Craig Smith:
No doubt, the most visually arresting part of the highlight is when Byfuglien follows Filip Forsberg to the top of the slot. But let's take a closer look:
A couple things. One, why the hell is Craig Smith completely forgotten behind Ben Chiarot? Two, why has Chiarot abandoned Smith in order to commit to Seth Jones, a player at least somewhat covered by Adam Lowry? Either Craig Smith found Chiarot's prosthetic blind spot, or the Jets defender made a boneheaded move. Is Dustin Byfuglien supposed to realize that Chiarot bleached his mind of Craig Smith?
Here's an interesting tidbit of information: the lowest TOI from a non-Thorburn skater? Ben Chiarot, with 10:05. Yes, he had a game misconduct in the 3rd period, but everyone had a game misconduct in the 3rd period. I'm not sure if he was benched or injured or whatnot. Curious.
2. Mark Stuart II: The Reckoning
Back to Mark Stuart. What a game he had. First he was fooled and consequently spun around by Mike Ribeiro, resulting in a partial screen of Michael Hutchinson on this goal by Seth Jones (a goal which ended up chasing Hutch from the net, incidentally enough):
But wait, there's more! For on Nashville's fourth goal of the game, Mark Stuart seemingly does a more extreme version of what you just saw above:
WHAT IS STU DOING!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/KaYsXEh82U— Kat (@KitKat_P) November 15, 2015
He literally does a complete 360° looking for his man to cross check, and loses said man in the process. That man was the eventual goal scorer, Mike Ribeiro. Click here to watch the highlight from another angle, one which simply reinforces the point: Mark Stuart in front of the Winnipeg net was neither a fun nor happy time tonight. #FreeAdamPardy
3. Mark Stuart III: The Final Chapter
The Godfather III of our Mark Stuart trilogy, this one is unessential but I'm going to include it anyways:
that could have ended a lot worse pic.twitter.com/zEk3LHotKZ— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 15, 2015
In short, Mark Stuart's desire to hit Seth Jones nearly decapitated Chris Thorburn. Luckily both Jones and Thorburn were all right, but the game took a nasty and generally useless turn after this hit. It even featured Mark Scheifele being a True North true good sport, when he slid the puck past Rinne long after the whistle had blown, because reasons. Anywho, by time Stuart took his 3rd period interference penalty, I was laughing and I honestly don't know why. #FreeJayHarrison
And as I tweeted before the game, I can't wait to see this Winnipeg defence sans Dustin Byfuglien next year.
4. An embarrassment of riches
Numbers are going to be inflated in a blowout game such as this, but regardless, it was a good night for the Nashville d-corps. Seth Jones had a goal and two assists, Ryan Ellis had two assists and Ekholm a goal and assist. In addition to picking up an assist, having a rather nice pinch in the early third and being a general pain in the neck, the ridiculous bargain known as Roman Josi also had moments such as this:
Today's "Keys to the Game" mentioned how Nashville's defence gets itself involved in the offense, and they sure showed that side of their game tonight. We'll be having nightmares of their plays from the point for days.
5. Paging Dr. Hellebuyck
None of Nashville's goals seemed outrageously terrible on the goalies' parts, although at 7-0 there are too many for me to really want to go back and check. The fact remains that Michael Hutchinson made 4 saves on 7 shots, good enough for a stellar .571 SV% before he was mercifully pulled. Ondrej Pavelec fared somewhat better, giving a 2014-15 Kari Lehtonen-esque performance of 23 saves on 27 shots, equalling a .852 SV%.
Everyone and their pet canary realizes that the defence owns a hefty share of the blame here, but sometimes a team needs heroic goaltending. The Jets themselves had it earlier this very season on a nightly basis. If the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres, as bad as they were, could still get .911 SV% goaltending by season's end, both Pavelec and Hutchinson need to be better.
Either that or we could trade one of them and call up Hellebuyck. Because draft and develop, or something.
Meanwhile. on the other side, Pekka Rinne posted his second shutout of the season and 38th of his NHL career. Not that we kept him particularly busy with chances, dangerous or otherwise, but it still seems worth a mention. Let's move on.
7. The road trip of ultimate sadness
The Winnipeg Jets have now allowed 18 goals in the last three games. As you well know, they have lost all three games. Losing while in the Central Division is bad enough. Losing to fellow Central Division opponents is all the worse. A 2-2-0 record coming out of this four game stretch would have been acceptable; a 1-3-0, now the best case scenario remaining, is a moderate disappointment.
Of far greater concern is the way they have played, top to bottom. Beyond this road trip, the Jets have also now lost six of the past seven games, good enough for a 1-5-1 record. Keep this up, and Patrick Roy will be breathing down our necks in no time.
It took a 7-0 game with this many penalties for Andrew Copp to break through the 10 minute ceiling for the first time this season. He did that and then some, playing a total of 12:08, while Petan saw 10:20 of ice time.
Assign the pair of them to the Manitoba Moose. They haven't been playing much, and they haven't been playing well. Copp has 2 points in 13 games while averaging a pittance of an ice time at 07:07. Petan's produced 1 goal in the same number of games, with an average of 09:27 per game. The fancy stats do not look favourably upon them either, especially Petan.
The above in and of itself should be enough justification; the benefit of a shakeup in Winnipeg, given their recent struggles, is simply a bonus. Let them play, let them grow. Petan and Copp should have had to play their way up to the Winnipeg Jets. Instead, they're playing their way down to the AHL.
If the Jets are going to be this bad, no use keeping Petan here, send him down. There's no reason for him to be up getting shelled nightly— Kat (@KitKat_P) November 15, 2015
9. Slumping no more
After last garnering a point on October 17th, Key to the Game Craig Smith had a big night with a goal and two assists. Cody Hodgson's two assists doubled his points total, while James Neal scored for the first time in six games and Calle Jarnkrok popped in a couple for good measure. A lot of previously underperforming Nashville Predators forwards came away from tonight's game feeling pretty good about themselves, which is just grand.
Those "Golden Saturday" yellow helmets are ridiculously hideous. Whoever thought they were a good idea should be sent to the spice mines of Kessel. And honestly, Nashville might as well have given us the other kind of Golden Saturday, because it feels like they did anyways.
As for predictions, I thought that Winnipeg's goaltender would let in three goals today. Hutchinson let in three, so close enough.
Have a good night everyone, and thanks for reading. #sadness