Winnipeg has had a curious start to the season. There have been some absurdly chaotic highs and some devastatingly disappointing lows. After a tight, if somewhat uneventful 1-0 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers, the Jets returned to action against the Los Angeles Kings. You’d be forgiven for wondering if Winnipeg knew the game had started because the Jets were getting shredded for a solid 25-30 minutes. Winnipeg found itself in a 2-1 hole, and it was completely earned. Kyle Connor’s first 5v5 goal of the season could not hide a team struggling to do much of anything against the Kings.
Then, Maurice made the change some of us have been begging for...he split up Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Immediately, the dormant beast awakened, with the top line of Scheifele, Ehlers, and Laine immediately finding opportunities in front of the net. The second line of Connor, Little, and Wheeler also found some great scoring opportunities, and the game was a totally different beast afterwards. The Jets managed to tie it on a great tip from Ehlers, but a late third period penalty put the Kings up 3-2. While Winnipeg didn’t have a great game overall, the second half provided some positives going forward.
Josh Morrissey doesn’t look right at all.
Something is up with the usually-reliable defenseman. Morrissey had several egregious turnovers, mistakes, and bad reads tonight. Moreover, Josh looks like he’s struggling to skate and keep up, especially in pursuit of puck-carriers. He got greased by Anze Kopitar in a manner atypical of the young defender. Hopefully Josh sorts out whatever is going on soon, because Winnipeg badly needs the top-pairing lefty it awarded an 8-year extension to return.
Scheifele and Wheeler apart works well.
Winnipeg has a wealth of offensive talent, but pairing Scheifele and Wheeler together has led to a mixed bag of results at even-strength over the past few seasons. A split between the two was long overdue, and the Jets immediately reaped the benefits of their separation. If Maurice decides to keep the former linemates apart in the future, I have a feeling the Jets will see their 5v5 scoring issues dissipate. The change is late, but progress is progress!
Nik Ehlers continues to dominate.
The Danish hero is an absolute beast, and I can’t believe someone on Twitter dot com called his contract “an albatross”. Ehlers is carrying this team on his back, and his goal tonight really doesn’t say enough about how much he’s doing for this team. When Nik was injured last season, the Jets completely broke down. I have no idea what they’d do without him, and I hope he never wears another jersey for the rest of his career.