The Jets return home with two losses sandwiched between two wins. The first win came against the Vancouver Canucks, and the second on the last game of their road trip against the St. Louis Blues which featured an eight goal onslaught. We must mention Patrick Laine. Eleven goals in four road games, including an amazing five goal night against St. Louis on Hockey Night in Canada. So impressive that even Don Cherry referenced Laine’s subdued goal celebrations due to his being a “good Canadian boy” (he is 84 years old, let’s give him a break).
All this, and the Manitoba Moose get Marko Dano back!
However, splitting four games has me a bit concerned. 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
Our Record Against Elite Teams – Moderately Worried, with Occasional Loss of Sleep Worried
The Jets have won thirteen games this year, but only two of those wins are against teams that are currently in a playoff position – Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche. Good teams should beat teams with losing records, so, that’s good. Elite teams beat teams with winning records, even in the other teams’ buildings.
The common thread seems to be that for some reason the Jets have had difficulty playing a full 60 minute game against better opponents. Against Calgary Flames this week the Jets napped through the first period giving up five goals to the Flames (not Hellebuyck’s best night). In Minnesota the Jets were playing the effective road game template against the Wild with a two goal lead heading into the third, only to collapse and give up four goals in the third (also not a stellar Connor Hellebuyck evening).
As of this writing the Jets sit seventh overall in the Western Conference, which is exactly where you are going to end up (sixth to eighth seed), if all you do is win against weaker teams. That makes for a much tougher run in the playoffs, and really brings into question whether you are in fact a Stanley Cup Contender. It’s late. I’m losing a bit of sleep worried about this.
Patrick Laine Even Strength Scoring – Not at All Worried
Remember back a couple of weeks ago when we were worried that Laine would never score again at even strength? I do, and I was worried. Perhaps not that he would “never” score again at even strength, but that he was essentially becoming a power play specialist, like a three point shooter in basketball. Well, he’s certainly proven that worry wrong this week. I’d like to think perhaps he was motivated by reading articles on Arctic Ice Hockey critiquing him, but more than likely he’s getting more sleep, playing less Fortnight.
Whatever it is, this week, wow! Literally a threat to score every time he touches the puck near an opposition goal. Watching him this week he really reminds me of another great former goal scorer, and that is Brett Hull. He doesn’t physically resemble Brett Hull, but like Hull, has an amazingly quick release and accurate shot that goaltenders fear. Awesome week for him. Am I still worried about bit about his future contract demands, his passing, his puck handling, his defense … yes … but let’s not be Debbie Downer here. He scored five goals in a game!
Games Lost Due to Injuries – Not Worried At All (but that can change quickly)
Andrew Copp missed Saturday’s game in St. Louis due to a concussion (side note: don’t the Jets usually refer to these as an “upper body” injury?). I’m touching wood and clutching a rabbit’s foot while writing this, but, the Jets have been very lucky in terms of injuries 22 games in. As of November 17, the Jets had the second fewest games lost due to injuries in the NHL.
Injuries are unpredictable and random. However, there is also an element of conditioning, training, style of play and player usage that impacts injury incidence. One freak play can change all of this, but, at this time, I’m feeling pretty calm about the Jets and injuries.