Hockey is back, y’all! Winnipeg exited the All-Star break with a slate of back-to-back games against the Eastern Conference. First up on the docket were the Philadelphia Flyers, a squad struggling to find an identity that isn’t Carter Hart or Nolan Patrick. This season has seen Philadelphia endure every kind of heartache imaginable, and Hart has been the rare spark to ignite the embers of passion in a long-suffering fanbase. Despite the Flyers’ struggles, they entered the break on a small high, no thanks to Hart’s heroics in net. Was he enough to stifle the Jets, or did Winnipeg enter the back-half of the season with an early victory?
The First Period
The Jets were good! They came out of the time off looking refreshed and owned Philadelphia in the early proceedings. Though Winnipeg had some issues getting the puck on-net, they kept the Flyers away from Brossoit and generated some good scoring opportunities in the other end. Hart, for his part, answered Winnipeg’s challenge and had a few dandy saves, none better than a shutdown on Patrik Laine during a late power play. It was the first bit of slot penetration from the Jets, and Winnipeg came very close to connecting. As it was, however, the score remained tied at 0-0.
The Second Period
At some point, Winnipeg stopped being good, and Brossoit got notably busier. The Jets have had recent struggles with generating offense, especially against teams that park the bus and halt transition attacks. Tonight, the Jets once again fell victim to the “bore me to death” hijinks, especially after the Flyers took a mid-period lead on Phil Varone’s greasy goal. Winnipeg’s response was to....keep sucking. They get plenty of offensive zone time, but wear themselves out skating around the perimeters or wasting opportunities with bad point shots. Several of those sequences led to odd-man rushes in the other direction. Boo.
Winnipeg had a smidgen of life materialize on a power play goal, courtesy of Jack Roslovic. He tipped a point shot from Trouba that deflected downwards and bounced over Hart’s glove. Yay! The Jets repaid my excitement with continued even-strength struggles and a late goal against from Travis Konecny. Sigh. Winnipeg needs to sort its crap out before the playoffs, because this team looks like Anaheim sometimes. You don’t want to look like the 2018-19 Ducks.
The Third Period
Honestly, the less said about this period, the better. The Jets continued to be bad, and they were duly rewarded for their efforts with a late dagger goal from James van Riemsdyk. Winnipeg pulled the goalie, but didn’t do much of anything to threaten Hart. I’m not sure how you come out of a week of rest looking like an ECHL team, but the Jets found a way against a team they should have handled easily. With Jake Muzzin no longer on the trade market, Winnipeg’s options to get better are rapidly drying up.
There are a laundry list of things to fix, but the first is to actually get slot penetration against opponents. Winnipeg is taking shots from the faceoff circles and the point, but it’s mostly wasted zone possession that inevitably leads into a dangerous counter. The Jets also need to do something Kyle Connor. He’s incredibly bad right now, and has been for some time. They demoted Laine to the 4th line, and it’s galling to me that Connor hasn’t received similar treatment. Lastly, promote Adam Lowry to Little’s position. He’s been doing as best as he can with Tanev and Perreault, but it might be time to give him a shot on the 2nd line. His forecheck and distribution might kickstart the even-strength scoring a bit.
BONUS IDEA: Stop playing this dumb, boring hockey. Be fun again! The Jets are not good when they turtle, and it’s not going to magically get better.
- Brossoit was good, keeping the Jets in a game they took themselves out of early. I like this dude a lot.
- Everyone else should be embarrassed. This was an ugly loss.