The end of the regular season is nigh for the Winnipeg Jets. Coming into tonight, most of us were angsty, angry, and ready to fight someone to the death in the comments section. We all have different culprits and perspectives, but we all agree on one thing; Winnipeg has been far from good enough. After the last embarrassing loss, the Jets held a 23-minute long players-only post-game meeting to try and stabilize the situation. This occurring in game 80 was not exactly reassuring, but improvement starts somewhere, I suppose. Would the fiery words bandied about the locker-room be enough to push the Jets to victory over the Colorado Avalanche, or would be subjected to another lifeless performance?
The First Period
Whatever was said on Tuesday appeared to have taken root tonight. The Jets looked like they were practically chomping at the bit to silence their detractors. Winnipeg was aggressive from puck-drop, but took a few minutes to start having their way with the Avs. An early breakaway opportunity against that led to a Chiarot roughing minor temporarily slowed Winnipeg’s press, but not for long. The maligned top line broke the ice first, with Scheifele and Wheeler chaotically piling around the net to jam a puck past Grubauer. An official review and a coach’s challenge failed to overturn what appeared to be a clean goal.
The Jets were not satisfied with Scheifele’s go-ahead marker. The fourth line, which has done a ton of heavy offensive lifting recently, generated some great offensive zone pressure and paved the way for the other lines to get to work. Little and Laine were again paired together, but had Copp as a supporting wing this time. I’ve been very impressed with Andrew’s progression into a dominant force, and he helped a bit with neutral zone break-ups and offensive zone puck distribution. Copp is good, and he may finally be getting rewarded for it. That said, that line definitely wasn’t working out on the whole. Maurice needs to stop pairing Laine and Little on the same line. They bring out the worst in each other.
The offensive pressure finally paid off for the Hayes line, which saw a good shift from Perreault set-up a Trouba blast from the point. The puck ricocheted off of Grubauer and into the waiting arms of Nik Ehlers, who capitalized on the backhand. Winnipeg’s ability to tear apart the slot in front of the goalie was evident, and a genuine sight for sore eyes. The entire period, really, was much more of what we’ve come to expect from this roster. I hope this is the turning point for this team, because they couldn’t reawaken at a better time.
The Second Period
The middle frame was, generally speaking, more of the same from Winnipeg. The Jets finally opted to use their speed, especially through the neutral zone, and attacked Colorado’s skaters with brute physicality. For the most part, neither team was able to get very many dangerous scoring chances from the central slot region, opting to try for long-distance deflections and sharp-angle shots. Colorado did manage to claw a goal back, with Tyson Barrie ripping a shot between Hellebuyck’s shoulder and the top of the net. The post-coverage needed to be a little better there, but the shot was absolutely marvelous. Sometimes you just get beat.
Winnipeg’s physicality did get them into some trouble, especially late in the period. Myers, who wasn’t having the world’s best game to begin with, appeared to punch Sam Girard for some reason. You, uh, can’t do that boss. The Avalanche power play looked extremely dangerous and had some unbelievable point-blank looks. The combined efforts of Hellebuyck and Byfuglien managed to rob Colorado twice in 3 seconds, narrowly keeping Winnipeg in the lead. Best not to do that again, Jets...
The Third Period and Overtime
They friggin’ did it again. Winnipeg, for whatever reason, is just incomprehensibly good at wasting every quality effort they put out. The Jets sat back for almost this entire period and began to revert back to the defensively-inept form that’s gotten them into trouble over the past few months. Hellebuyck did his absolute best to hold the line, but even his most startling efforts weren’t enough. Carl Soderberg tied the game late to get the Avs to within striking distance of a clinched playoff berth, deflecting a shot from the point after Trouba and Beaulieu allowed two skaters to swoop right behind them.
The Jets were gifted an end-of-period power play, and failed to capitalize on the opportunity despite having some unbelievably wide-open opportunities to pot one. The scoreline held til overtime and the Jets power play did....absolutely nothing. The remaining 35 or 40 seconds expired and it was back to 4-on-4. Byfuglien made a bad pass, springing MacKinnon and Johnson on a 2-on-1. Just like that, Johnson whipped the winner home and completed the humiliation.
I’m feeling pretty cooked. Winnipeg has tested our patience for months, but this is just asinine. The team has absolutely no ability to avoid some kind of embarrassment, and the discipline, structure, and will just don’t seem to be there. The Jets will be lucky not to be swept at this rate, and there’s a very good chance this OT loss just cost them home ice in the playoffs. Awesome!
- Hellebuyck had a fairly outstanding game, barring some hilarious puck misplays.
- The top line was rolling, a rarity in recent times.
- The Jets played an excellent first period...
- ....and then forgot to finish out the rest of the game.
- Another. Blown. Lead.
- Bye bye home ice. Not like it’s going to help that much, but it would have been nice!