Winnipeg has been on something of a relative “hot streak” since the end of the All-Star break. The Jets, surprisingly, have looked like an NHL squad and are playing a lot more aggressively. It’s been a long time coming, but maybe the break flicked a switch for a team that’s been playing like a mutated decrepit old turtle for several months. With Hellebuyck looking like his early-season self again, just how far will this squad go in a weakened West?
The Jets faced an early test in this run, finishing the second half of a back to back against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks aren’t a fantastic squad, but have given the Jets fits throughout this season. They’re also in the hunt for a wild card spot, if you can believe it, so tonight’s game was pivotal for both parties. Things started off swimmingly, with the Jets conceding 2 rather ugly goals in quick succession. Both markers came off of rather nasty defensive lapses and poor efforts. The second goal, in particular, was embarrassing as Scheifele didn’t bother to backcheck on Saad before he potted the goal.
Winnipeg started to jolt to life after that, and never really looked back. The Jets opened their account on, of all things, a PK. The third line has been the heartbeat of this recent resurgence in play and Andrew Copp was a catalyst (again) in tonight’s match-up. He sprang a 2-on-1 breakaway with Kyle Connor on the PK and flipped a gorgeous pass over a sprawled Chicago skater. Connor didn’t miss, getting the Jets to within a goal. Winnipeg continued to dominate long stretches of the second period but Corey Crawford kept answering the call.
The third period finally saw the Jets rewarded for their efforts on the power play, with Blake Wheeler busting out a vintage wing rush to tie the game. Copp, already a key cog in Winnipeg’s offensive zone dominance, then scored a beautiful top shelf goal from in close a few minutes later. Laine and Connor padded the scoreline with empty net goals, sealing the well-earned victory for the Jets.
Andrew Copp is starting to carry this team.
If there was any question as to who has been driving the bus for the bottom-6, it’s certainly been silenced now. With Harkins and Roslovic in support, Copp has gone full beast-mode, and had his best game of the year against Chicago. He was utterly dominant tonight, and surely the game’s first star. One word: epic.
Winnipeg might be good enough to make noise in the Western post-season picture.
The Jets don’t have to be great to make the playoffs, that much is clear. They’ve been good enough in recent times, though. If they keep playing around break-even or better in scoring opportunities, with Hellebuyck covering the difference....maybe a round or 2 in the post-season? Dare I dream?
Hockey is fun again.
Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed watching the Jets. They’re making me happier, a lot moreso than previous months. MTS sounded louder than it’s been in ages, so I can’t be the only satisfied customer. More games with quality play, please.