The Jets have left me feeling uneasy in recent times. The top line of Scheifele, Wheeler, and Connor is regularly posting CF%’s well under break even. The iconic Patrik Laine shot on the PP1 has been removed. The defense, ramshackle even before injuries, has Joe Morrow and Ben Chiarot continuing to play uncomfortably high amounts of time while Sami Niku sits in the pressbox. There are some worrying things, but Winnipeg had an opportunity to make things seem a bit rosier with a game against the lottery-contending Ottawa Senators. It looked like a definite bounceback win candidate if ever there was one.
The First Period
In the first 4 or 5 minutes of the game, Winnipeg had virtually no shot attempts and was completely outworked by the Sens. Ottawa’s aggressive forecheck, which really wasn’t so much aggressive pace as it was Winnipeg looking downtrodden, led to an early Mark Stone goal from distance. Truth be told, you’d really want Laurent Brossoit to save this one, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Winnipeg’s lack of passing acumen and defensive gaffes could have cost them even sooner than Stone’s goal.
That seemed to jolt the Jets a good deal, and the team started to pick up the pace. The second line notably stood out on a great offensive zone possession that saw the forwards work the puck into some dangerous areas. Roslovic fed a nice pass from behind the net and found Laine in the low slot. Anders Nilsson barely got his glove up in time to deflect the Laine wrister away, but it served as a good reminder of what Patrik can do when he’s being used effectively. For all the added jump, Winnipeg’s defensive woes were still on full display. Ryan Dzingel got a step on Tyler Myers and buried a shot over Brossoit’s shoulder to make it 2-0. It was another shot you’d like Brossoit to save, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
I hate to point this out, but Laine was on the second power play unit again. Look, I get it. You want to try and kickstart the top unit, so you move the big shot struggling to find twine. On the other hand, Laine’s sheer presence and threat alone is what enables every other aspect of the power play unit to function. Removing him takes away from the one-time threat he poses, and it means Scheifele and Wheeler have a lot more work to do. The Jets need to stop making life so much harder than it needs to be.
The Second Period
The Jets were a lot more active to start the middle period, applying the same amount of pressure and zone possession against Ottawa they had after Stone’s goal. Even so, the Sens still managed to generate a few decent counters, including one air-mailed pass that almost found Dzingel on a breakaway. Instead, the puck skittered away and was sent the other direction. Chabot, who lobbed the initial zone-breaking pass, whiffed on the puck recovery. Laine and Little took advantage and potted the goal on a brilliant 2-on-1. That’s more like it.
Like life, joy can be so fleeting. So too did that come to pass with my hope for this game. Brossoit, who had a tough start, had several more “WTF” moments. A Stone power play goal extended the lead to 3-1, but it beat Laurent a little too cleanly. The Sens scored again a few minutes later on a sequence I could generously call a dumpster fire. After that, Winnipeg looked pretty broken. Them’s the breaks.
The Third Period
To be honest, I really don’t feel like recapping the futility that was this closing 20 minutes, so here’s a picture of a puppy instead.
- Laine had a point!
- Everything else was prettttttttty bad.