After a pre-game ceremony that I did not watch and a couple of long days of media responsibility for Patrik Laine, the native son got to play his first NHL game in Finland. The young Finn delivered, recording a hatrick and legally changing his name to Hatrik Laine.
Laine was not the only Jet to play well; Connor Hellebuyck looked strong and made several key saves including the a save on an Evgeny Dadonov breakaway early in the first to keep the game scoreless.
The Winnipeg Jets are looking decent today. They are able to get the cycle going this game and move the puck up the ice. While they still had some defensive breakdowns, they also looked like they were capable of breaking teams down. The Jets new lines, including Laine playing with Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev, looked like the Jets might be onto something.
Dmitry Kulikov on the other hand looks like he is still struggling. Now, he is coming off of back surgery this off-season, but he has to stop looking like Mark Stuart to justify his contract. On the other hand, it is really nice to see Mark Scheifele on the penalty kill. His instincts are good and are put to good use on the PK. It also helps when the Jets get into penalty trouble. Oh, and Mathieu Perreault is finally getting the ice time he deserves and he is scoring goals...like a champ!
The second starts off a lot like the first with no scoring, but both teams looking good. Watching Blake Wheeler squander a really good shot when Alex Petrovik turned the puck over deep in his net. Things went slightly south for the Jets when Jacob Trouba took an ill-advised penalty behind the Panthers net and Keith Yandle scored on a beautiful shot on the power play (side note, I had no clue Yandle was still playing).
I’m terrible at knowing what is a penalty and what isn’t, but I can understand the Jets getting frustrated. Even if they are taking legitimate penalties, I can understand why the Jets are getting frustrated. I can also understand how Lowry can be frustrated after taking the Jets third straight penalty, but taking the unsportsmanlike because of his reaction puts the Jets in a worse spot than if he only took the one penalty.
The magic of Finland: when Laine got the puck on the power play, the entire crowd seemed to hold it’s breathe and then jumped up in unison when he scored. The son is home! On the other hand, the Jets let in a late goal from Dadonov. An ill-timed defensive miscue led to it and that allowed Matheson to set up the late, game-tying goal.
The Jets got an early 5 on 3 as Keith Yandle took a penalty by impeding the progress of Nikolaj Ehlers and then had too many men on the ice. On the subsequent power play, Laine rifled home his second of the game, much to the fans approval. All he needed was some home cooking to break out of his slump. Sadly, my PVR ended about halfway through the period meaning Laine scored on an empty net where he ally-ooped the puck to himself and then slid belly-first into the goal after it.
- The Jets put together a fairly solid game from start to Finnish (of my PVR).
- Talk was this would be Laine’s breakout for the season and it looks like it was. Excellent.
- Connor Hellebuyck had another good start in net. Sure, there was a hairy moment or two, but he used his Jedi powers and got through them.
- Finally, Blake Wheeler looks off. If he is injured, the Jets have to do the right thing and sit him. He is only hurting himself and the team. If he is not, oh boy, do we have a problem here.