The start to the season has been eventful for the Winnipeg Jets. Neither of the first two games against the Blues and Stars was without blemish, with the Stars presenting a particularly nasty example of their newfound strength. Winnipeg has had a difficult time managing an NHL defense that’s icing Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot, and Joe Morrow at the same time. In conjunction with a penalty kill that isn’t killing penalties, things haven’t been wonderful, folks. The Jets needed a big win at home to get things back on track. Did the Kings meet a kingslayer, or did the Jets sputter on the takeoff strip?
The First Period
The Jets took a few minutes to wake up, and the Kings took advantage of a Winnipeg defense that continues to implode. Tyler Myers got walked (again) by former Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk for the Russian goalscorer’s first marker of the season. It just had to be Kovy to announce his triumphant return against the franchise that drafted him. Giving up a goal at home made the Jets very angry, and they quickly swarmed an aging Kings roster.
Winnipeg finally broke through 5 minutes later, with Brandon Tanev grinding along the boards and securing the puck, before dishing a beauty of a pass to Mark Scheifele. Kings backup netminder Jack Campbell was completely helpless and could only watch the puck slip by him. Tie game. Winnipeg stifled the Kings roster for the rest of the period, absolutely running riot and leading the shot clock 12-4. It’s a miracle the Jets didn’t score again, because the Kings were overwhelmed by Winnipeg’s pace and forward skill.
The Second Period
After a thorough shellacking by the Jets, you’d imagine the Kings would feel the pressure and respond. Instead, LA continued to have an appallingly listless performance and barely mustered 4 additional shots. That’s for the entire second period, mind you. LA didn’t generate many scoring opportunities either, struggling to cleanly transition out of the defensive zone. The Jets forwards constantly harassed them and forced turnovers as quickly as they put pucks on net. The Kings were hemmed in as if the Jets were on a full-court press for the whole 20 minutes.
A 1-1 tie didn’t suit this game, so Winnipeg decided to capitalize on a power play opportunity. Kyle Connor added his third goal in as many games off of a Blake Wheeler shot that trickled past Campbell. The puck evidently did not cross the line before Connor gave it the last little nudge. Just like that, the Jets were firmly in the lead, and in impressive fashion. The rest of the period was a repeat of the first, with Winnipeg continuing to eat the Kings alive.
The Third Period
With a 2-1 lead firmly in hand, the Jets began to ease off the gas a touch. Anze Kopitar and the rest of the Kings top-6 had a few dazzling offensive zone sequences during the last few minutes of the game. A late Myers penalty pushed Winnipeg to the brink, but LA failed to do more than briefly trouble Connor Hellebuyck. It was clear Hellebuyck was struggling with the lack of rubber directed his way, but he made the saves when he needed to. All in all, a solid enough performance.
At the other end of the rink, one can’t find enough superlatives for Campbell’s performance. He stopped 37 of 39 shots, and was the sole reason LA wasn’t humiliated by the scoreline. Winnipeg put a hurtin’ on this Kings roster, yet failed to post more than 2 goals. LA owes Campbell more than a few beers when the team returns to the Staples Center. The Kings will also need a lot more offensive creativity from their bottom-6. The Jets should maybe call up Sami Niku in the meantime. Their blueline as constructed won’t be sustainable over the course of the season.
- Jack Campbell was a stud. He was the only thing standing between Winnipeg and a Tanev hat trick.
- Kyle Connor keeps on truckin’. 3 goals in 3 games is quite the level of production.
- Brand Tanev went beast mode tonight. His assist on Scheifele’s goal was particularly epic.
- The top lines for both teams were pretty solid. The depth lines for LA, though, yikes.
- Tyler Myers has had a rough season thus far. You really have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. Chiarot and Morrow aren’t far behind in poor form.
- The Kings flat out stunk. They need some young talent, and if they don’t unbench Jaret Anderson-Dolan soon, could find themselves in an early hole.
- Ehlers-Little-Laine is still bad, guys.