Winnipeg ended 2015 off on a sour note, losing to the Arizona Coyotes 4-2, and the manner in which they did so was spectacularly irksome. The Jets fell short in a game where they dominated every category aside from one: keeping their heads. As it turns out, losing that particular battle cost them the game, and now this lengthy road trip is off to a lovely start.
Shane Doan, Cowboy: Prior to the game, Arizona Coyotes fans conspired to continue celebrating Shane Doan's second career hat trick, scored on December 29th against the Blackhawks. The results were appropriately delightful:
Flying Out of the Gate: After a 3 GA, .864 SV% effort in his last outing, Louis Domingue was surely looking to have a sharper start against Winnipeg. It wasn't long until he was properly tested, and he looked up to the task:
5 Defenders vs. 3 Attackers? I like those odds: However, even a sharp Louis Domingue was no match for the Arizona Coyotes defensive coverage. Despite Winnipeg being outnumbered in the zone 5 to 3, see here as Adam Lowry is allowed to make his way to the net and poke in the still loose puck:
For the most part, Domingue does his job. Unfortunately, he was left relatively high and dry by his teammates.
Mystery Solved: Going into the game, there was a cloud of uncertainty and anticipation over whether Shane Doan would poetically pass Dale Hawerchuk's all-time franchise record of 379 goals against the Winnipeg Jets. He didn't leave folks waiting long. 09:28 into the 1st period, old and new combined to make history:
"Shane Doan, the greatest goalscorer in franchise history". Now of course, in recognition of both this incredible feat and the shared history Shane Doan and the Coyotes franchise have with Winnipeg, the NHL Jets twitter account had their congratulatory tweet ready:
Doan scores. Tie game. #WPGvsARI— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) January 1, 2016
Or not. Thankfully, the folks over at @NHLJets eventually got over their feeling of awkwardness long enough to tweet out appropriate acknowledgement:
From the sounds of things, Winnipeg Jets fans in attendance had no such qualms, delay or insecurity with how franchise history works. Good on them:
Nice touch by the many #NHLJets fans in attendance to rise to their feet to salute Shane Doan, who started his career with Jets 1.0— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) January 1, 2016
Fancy Stat Supremacy: While the period ended in a 1-1 tie, the metrics indicated dominance by Winnipeg. After 20 minutes, the Jets were outshooting Arizona 14-6, while even strength Corsi events totalled 23 to 15. In percentages, the latter translates to 60.53% vs. 39.47%; this is a pretty good split so far as Corsi goes, and the tilted ice was just as apparent to the eyes as it was an Excel spreadsheet. Which perhaps made this juicy rebound with seconds left even more panic-inducing:
The Dominion of Domingue: Unfortunately, the Winnipeg Jets weren't the only players putting in a good show. If not for Louis Domingue, this game could have easily gotten out of hand for Arizona. He had a particularly notable save on Blake Wheeler to keep things even at 1 a piece:
O Captain! My Captain!: The kind of dominance Winnipeg demonstrated doesn't make for an abundance of thoughts or highlights. There were many shots and many saves. What does bear mentioning is the idiotic cross checking penalty by Andrew Ladd on Oliver Ekman-Larsson as the 2nd period ended. It was vain, valueless and put Winnipeg behind the eight ball to begin the 3rd.
The Jets brought a 29-11 shot differential total into the 2nd intermission, 15-5 coming from the 2nd period. The even strength Corsi dominance was patently ridiculous: 23 - 3 in the 2nd. No, seriously, it was 88.46% to 11.54%. There was absolutely no need for Andrew Ladd's penalty.
Inevitability: And of course, what happens with bad penalties? They seem to disproportionately end badly. Andrew Ladd's infraction was no exception:
Yes, the goal comes off a funny, lucky bounce, but stupid penalties lead to stupid goals. Despite being outshot 29-12, the Arizona Coyotes found themselves leading 2-1. I think many a Jets fan were understandably enraged.
The Redemption of Adam: Having already scored the game's opening tally, Adam Lowry did his best to bail out Winnipeg's captain, with some welcome assistance from Louis Domingue. The Arizona netminder, who had been extremely sharp up until this point, made up for his excellence in one swift stroke (or pass, as it were):
Now that, friends, is a brain cramp. Suddenly the Jets were no longer playing catchup, though Domingue subsequently made a big save on Alexander Burmistrov, so unfortunately the wheels hadn't completely fallen off.
Just One Punch: And now, the pièce de résistance. I assume Tyler Myers left his brain back in Winnipeg, because with the whistle blown and game tied 2-2 in the 3rd period, he decided it was a good time to punch Tobias Rieder in the face.
You can complain about the reffing or the way Rieder went down till the cows come home. Tyler Myers should not be taking that swing. It's idiotic, and it's the kind of undisciplined play which has made Winnipeg the proud owners of 1st Place in the 'Times Shorthanded' competition. Congratulations. How's last in the Central Division treating you?
It goes without saying that Arizona scored on their resulting power play, with Andrew Ladd cross checking target OEL blasting one past a thoroughly screened Hellebuyck.
For the record, I think Myers was trying to push Rieder in the chest, not punch him. But that is the type of penalty that should be avoided— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) January 1, 2016
It's really simple, actually. The #NHLJets are going nowhere when the only stat they lead league in is penalties. No. Where.— randy turner (@randyturner15) January 1, 2016
Salt in the Wound: For good measure, Shane Doan popped in an empty net goal for #481, creating some breathing room beside Dale Hawerchuk's previous record. Not much to say here, aside from this: with Connor Hellebuyck pulled for the extra man, why in God's name is Chris Thorburn your sixth skater? The Winnipeg Jets know that we're kidding about the whole 'Scoreburn' thing, right?
The Aftermath: Following the game's conclusion, both Tyler Myers and Andrew Ladd addressed their respective penalties. While Myers did qualify his apology somewhat, it paled in comparison to the asterisk Ladd placed beside his:
#NHLJets Andrew Ladd in his post-game comments (1/2): "Both of those penalties, we've got to keep our cool but on the flip side..."— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) January 1, 2016
"there's some honour to stay on your feet and not roll around on the ground." #NHLJets captain Andrew Ladd (2/2)— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) January 1, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Exhibit A in the case against Andrew Ladd's bitching:
This, by the way, was missed by the officials. Andrew Ladd, captain of the Winnipeg Jets, please tell me more about honour.
With all of that said, thanks for reading, and Happy New Year folks!