The night started out with such promise. Beloved Winnipeger Scott Oake, the White Out street party on Donald Street, and a Jets team that came out looking like the team that made it to the Western Conference finals last year. Alas, they also forgot that (as cliché as it sounds) to win playoff games, you need to play a full 60 minutes. A sloppy third period in their own end, combined with tenacious forechecking from the Blues, and a healthy dose of excellent goaltending by young Jordan Binnington, led to a 2 – 1 defeat.
I love playoff hockey! It’s just so much better. And, I loved that when the Jets were coming on to the ice Dustin Byfuglien gave Patrik Laine a firm but friendly shove. I thought it was a good sign for a team that has struggled with some cohesiveness issues, and it certainly looked positive, at least for the first period. Very early in the period Mark Scheifele got called for a questionable goalie interference call putting the Jets on the penalty kill. The Jets killed off the penalty and played one of the best periods of hockey I’ve seen from them in a long time. Quick, crisp defensive zone exit passes; hard forechecking in the Blues zone; and hitting. 15 hits in the first period alone. Someone must have reminded Tyler Myers that he is 6’8” , as he looked a bit like Chara-lite. Connor Hellebuyck looked dialed in – moving well and playing outside of paint versus backed into the net. At about the 10 minute mark shots on goal were tied at 3 – 3. Patrik Laine looked engaged and was paid off for his effort at 13 minutes in when he converted on a beautiful one time shot on a feed from Bryan Little. First goal in 18 games for Laine, and no better time than the first goal in a playoff series.
Both teams woke up about five minutes or so into the second period thanks in part to some big hits from Adam Lowry and Tyler Myers. Vladimir Tarasenko had a dangerous break away chance early on as he got past Ben Chiarot, nearly beat Hellebuyck, and had the puck cleared by Buff. Myers had a great chance at around the 14 minute mark, followed by a penalty to Mathieu Perreault. The Jets and Hellebuyck stood tall, and even had a great short handed chance by Par Lindholm. Both goalies had some goal post help tonight, including Hellebuyck when Ryan O’Reilly hit iron around the 11 minute mark. Binnington was great in period two again robbing several Jets including Andrew Copp on a feed from Laine. St. Louis finally got called for a penalty towards the end of the second thanks to some hard work by the Jets fourth line. The closest the Jets got was by Byfuglien who rang one off the post during the power play, and the period ended 1 – 0 Jets.
During the intermission Alex Pietrangelo mentioned that the Blues needed to spend more time in the Jets zone, and that is precisely what they did in the third. Relentless forechecking by the Blues hemmed the Jets up in their own end, which led to difficulty exiting their zone. The Jets had some early chances – another Laine goal post; good chance by Buff about four minutes in – but could not sustain the type of play they had in the first. Four minutes in David Perron tied the game with a shot through traffic following a face off win in the Jets end (apparently face off percentage was even tonight, but it sure seemed like the Blues won more). The Blues continued to push and Hellebuyck was forced to make some great stops. Tyler Myers also broke up a two on one by the Blues. The game winning goal came at 17:55 by Tyler Bozak from Patrick Maroon who worked hard to get him the puck, and also never stopped chirping the Jets the entire game. The Jets pulled Hellebuyck, had some chances to tie the game, particularly a one timer by Mark Scheifele that he just didn’t get everything on. Once more they were stymied by rookie sensation, and questionable teen tweeter, Jordan Binnington.
- This is the best game I’ve seen Laine play since 2018.
- Hellebuyck was very good. You can’t fault him.
- Buff had some nice rushes and hits.
- Tyler Myers must find the regular season boring because he is a different player in the playoffs. I’d pay him if we got this version more often.
- Par Lindholm is a perfect fourth line player. He’ll probably be scratched when Tanev is healthy, but, I feel comfortable with him in the line up.
- Full credit to Jordan Binnington - he was very good tonight.
- Nice to see some new commercials! Casinos in Ontario; Marty Brodeur renting a car; and who knew that shaving daily was a tedious requirement for firefighters.
- The top line needs to play like the top line. They were not terrible, but they need to generate more chances, even if they are matched against every team’s best.
- The second line as well. Kevin Hayes was very quiet. Nikolaj Ehlers drifted in and out of the game.
- Patrick Maroon is a pain in the butt. Effective. But a pain in the butt.