How are you feeling this week Jets fans? Are you practicing self-care – meditating, deep breathing, enjoying cocktails? We’re eight games into the NHL season and our Winnipeg Jets sit at 5 – 2 - 1. One season ago we were at 4 – 3 - 1 after eight games. However, this year is very different. This time last year we all would have been happy to eke into the playoffs for only the second time for Jets version 2.0. This year, if we’re honest, we’re thinking Stanley Cup. We’re thinking which Jet will swim in the Portage Place fountain after a cup victory.
Higher expectations can lead to higher anxiety. So, let’s check in with how we’re doing using our Weekly Jets Anxiety Check-In using the arbitrary three-level anxiety scale:
Not At All Worried
Panic/Losing Sleep Worried
Facing Connor McDavid in a Playoff Series – Panic/Losing Sleep Worried – Wow! I knew McDavid was good, but watching him lead the Oilers from a 4 -1 third period deficit to an overtime win and drop four points without breaking a sweat, literally caused me to have a dreamlike vision of him doing that to us in a playoff game. Reading the post-game comments from Blake Wheeler, Josh Morrissey and Paul Maurice did nothing to help me calm down.
I’m paraphrasing wildly here, but, turns out they all pretty much agree that he’s the best player in the world and virtually unstoppable. My anxiety is two-fold – facing the best player in the world in a seven game elimination series; and, how much does the best player in the world elevate the level of his teammates, particularly in a playoff series? Even Milan Lucic looked good against us! At some point in his career McDavid will win a Stanley Cup. I’m calling it now. He’s just too talented not to. I just hope we can win one or a few before he reaches his maximum peak powers.
Our Second Line – Moderately Worried – After scoring only eleven goals in the first five games, the Jets have scored thirteen in our last three games. That’s progress. Josh Morrissey has demonstrated the offensive potential we suspected he had and has seven points at the time of this article. Adam Lowry has chipped in four goals and so has Kyle Connor. Our power play is currently fourth best in the league. So why am I being a glass-half-full guy? Our second line of Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrick Laine and Bryan Little. Ehlers has still not scored a goal this season. Little has two goals. And Laine has three, all on the power play, all from essentially the same spot on the ice. At this point he’s basically a power play specialist. Kind of like a three-point shooter in basketball. That’s useful, but limited. To win a Stanley Cup we really need a second line that is a threat to score. A second line that opposing coaches have to plan for and scheme against. I’m happy with our balanced scoring and that our defense showing offensive potential. But, I’m moderately worried about our second line.
Goaltending – Not at All Worried – 2.5 goals against in eight games and two wins for our back-up goaltender Laurent Brossoit. Happy times! ShannLeah made a great observation in her Arizona game recap that Brossoit plays a similar style to Connor Hellebuyck. Derek Gagnon pointed out in his goalie training camp battle article that both Brossoit and Hellebuyck train together in the off season. It’s an intangible type thing, but, having goaltenders that appear to be friends isn’t a bad thing. Plus, a back-up goaltender who plays a similar style to the starter has to make it easier for the defensemen when he gets into a game in terms of challenging shooters, rebound control, puck handling. I have no worries about our goaltending thus far.
Let us know in the comments where you’re at in terms of weekly anxiety level, or any additional areas of concern or non-concern.