The Winnipeg Jets were back in action after a triumphant road victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in which they actually played good, skilled hockey. It was the sort of performance we’ve been missing for a month and a half. The return of Nik Ehlers to the line-up was evidently enough to convince Maurice to rework the line-up, an arrangement that got the Jets a lot closer to optimal status. Most notably, Patrik Laine had a few power play goals after going 15 games without a goal. An evening match against the Arizona Coyotes seemed a good opportunity to carry the momentum and winning ways, but the desert dogs had a few ideas of their own...
The First Period
Winnipeg began the game with haste, attempting to shake off the rust of a delayed start due to an overlong Shane Doan tribute ceremony. The Jets were flying, with the top line creating some extremely dangerous passing movements between Scheifele and Laine. The other three lines disrupted Arizona’s transition game and caused a degree of havoc in the Coyotes end of the ice. Eventually, Arizona took a penalty and Winnipeg’s power play took to the ice. After one or two early sequences that failed to capitalize, Laine slapped a one-timer past Darcy Kuemper. It was his third goal in 2 games. I am happy for my Finnish prince.
Unfortunately, Winnipeg’s defense then decided to take a major dump, failing to connect on almost every breakout pass or zone exit attempt. Time and again, the Jets blueliners distributed the puck directly to opposing skaters, creating extremely dangerous scoring chances against. Brossoit looked a touch nervous in net, but could do nothing to stop the quick Brad Richardson goal just a few minutes later. Kyle Connor, Dmitry Kulikov, and Bryan Little all seemed to lose their situational awareness as Richardson walked in almost uncontested. Connor was the only one to recognize the threat, but reacted far too late. With that, the game was tied, and Arizona began to seize on Winnipeg’s poor passing to apply more pressure. Thankfully, the Jets avoided giving up any more goals, but it was an ugly turn of events after a fantastic start.
The Second Period
I was hoping for things to improve. They did....kind of. The Jets had several good offensive zone possessions that hemmed the Yotes in their defensive zone. They applied waves of pressure, with the top line generating some especially great slot penetration at even-strength. Laine’s ability to find gaps in defensive coverage opened him up for some glorious looks at the net, none of which he managed to capitalize on. He came oh so close, though.
Winnipeg’s defensive gaffes began to take shape again, with Lawson Crouse getting the benefit this go around. Crouse banked the puck off of Chiarot’s skate and into the net. Chiarot was already having a pretty miserable night, and his deflected own-goal only made matters worse. A few minutes later, a rough line change from the Jets saw Clayton Keller cut in against Myers. I don’t think Myers decided to engage Keller in time, and Clayton deflected the puck just ever so slightly off of Myers’ stick to fool Brossoit. To add insult to injury, Arizona nearly added a short-handed goal after Wheeler got burned by Goligoski on an odd-man rush. The puck crossed the line, but open further review, was properly waved off for a kicking motion. The reviewed goal was a brief break, but the rest of the period was something of a disaster.
The Third Period
Not much happened this frame, so I’d like to focus on the one thing that may completely change the complexion of this season. Josh Morrissey may be injured, potentially for a considerable amount of time. If this is the case, Winnipeg may just pack it up. I don’t think the Jets can survive the loss of Morrissey, especially given how leaky the defense was with him present. This is a worst-case scenario for Winnipeg, and the trade deadline suddenly looks bleak.
If Winnipeg wanted to trade for Stone as a rental, forget it. Morrissey out long-term, especially during the playoffs, should alter what the Jets do tomorrow. I hate that this has happened, but I can’t see Winnipeg making it through without Josh’s services. I don’t know what else to say, other than to pray for Morrissey’s expedient recovery. The Jets need him badly. So, so badly. Everything Winnipeg does in the future will depend on the diagnosis this evening. Clench, folks.
- Laine was phenomenal. This was his best game of the year by a fair margin.
- Morrissey going down is an absolute disaster.
- The defense was pretty wretched. Winnipeg’s offense couldn’t get much in the slot either. Bad. Just bad.