The Winnipeg Jets took on the Washington Capitals tonight (with a new anthem singer who was not too bad) in need of a ROW to keep the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks at bay. To accomplish this they smartly started Ondrej Pavelec in his fourth straight game, as Michael Hutchinson has been struggling of late, and he rewarded the coaches' faith.
The Jets started the game strong, but when the fourth line and third pairing entered the game together, all good things were for naught and the Caps got extended pressure in the Jets' zone. As soon as the Jets returned to their more skilled players who can exit the zone with control though, the game turned around. Mark Stuart scored what will probably go down as the prettiest goal of his career.
The Jets' strong played carried over into the second where another strong zone exit and entry led to another goal by the Scheifele line, by the man himself. As Arby would say, "nice player". The rest of the game went without incident, Pavelec recorded a shutout, and Adam Lowry added an empty net goal on a late game penalty kill.
1. The first real set of Caps pressure is brought to you by the fourth line and third pair being played at the same time. This is a really bad combination because there is no one who can skate the puck out of the zone with control.
2. Drew Stafford making a great zone entry and pass to Mark Stuart(!!) at the crease for a beautiful goal. The whole play started with a controlled zone entry, which has been an emphasis for the Jets this year and is really paying off. As my mom notes, this is the first goal she has ever seen Stuart score.
3. Mark Stuart scored a goal from below the hash marks. It was weird. Stuart never creeps below the hash marks in the offensive zone.
4. Mike Johnson is a treat to listen to. He pointed out how Alex Ovechkin was very politely talking to a referee and how the Jets have improved their communication skills with refs, getting less chintzy calls against them as a result.
5. Chris Thorburn almost scored a goal that would have given us a game that featured both a Stuart and a Thorburn goal. Don't worry, the world will not end soon.
6. The fourth line is not very good, but their speed has created chances and drew a penalty with their speed. Not a bad thing at all.
7. Mark Scheifele has had to step in as the number one centre with Bryan Little hurt and has been playing well lately. Scheifele's goal is an example of that. His whole line has been fantastic lately.
8. When the Jets begin to not exit the zone with control they really start to struggle. This makes sense because when you dump the puck out of the zone you are giving up possession in the neutral zone. When you dump in on a zone entry you are giving up possession in the opposing team's zone.
9. After missing high and wide on a lot of shots through much of his first two seasons, Mark Scheifele has found the corners.
10. Adam Lowry hasn't found his scoring touch as of yet, but he is incredible defensively. Given his age and experience it is hard not to be impressed with his awareness. He is playing tough match-ups along side Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik. He rarely looks out of place.
11. When you have 4 on 4 leading into a powerplay, you need to have the right players on the ice. In that vein Jim Slater piled up another load of negative Corsi. He is doing this despite playing with far more talented wingers than he's used to.