I have to be honest; I full expected a Winnipeg loss against the Flyers. Philadelphia is a very tough opponent right now, and is playing like a squad hellbent on making the Metro post-season picture very interesting. The Jets, conversely, are just trying to tread water and survive the Wild Card race until reinforcements arrive. Coming into Philly to kick off a back-to-back Eastern Conference swing was no easy task.
The Jets immediately started to regret those late night cheesesteaks, with the Flyers pouncing on some bad defensive coverages and communications errors to go up 1-0. Scott Laughton split the third line and Nathan Beaulieu to give the Flyers a quick lead. A few minutes later, Laughton took advantage of some net-front chaos to deflect a goal off a skate and in. Sad trombone. Winnipeg did try and fight back a good deal, with some quality offensive looks from the second line that tested Carter Hart. Patrik Laine, in particular, put on a monster showing and was mostly unlucky.
Despite outshooting Philadelphia heavily through the first two periods, Winnipeg ended up with a 3-0 deficit, the third goal coming from Sean Couturier. I thought the Jets tried some interesting side-of-the-net tips and deflections, but no one figured out Hart’s pads. Right before the end of the second, Josh Morrissey cut the deficit to 2 goals with a quality shot from the slot, catching everyone by surprise.
Laine then got the Jets to within towards the midway point of period 3, ripping a laser on the power play. Unfortunately, the rest of the third period was like watching the death spiral of Icarus after his wings burned up. I feel like Scheifele and Wheeler were especially bad, and it’s not like they were great to begin with. That first line got eaten alive, so much so that not even Ehlers could save it. Those two not showing up is going to kill this team if these line combos continue. The Flyers iced the game with a few minutes left not long after Wheeler took an extremely dumb penalty. This game was already over after the second period, though.
Cody Eakin will not save this team.
The Jets are lacking top-6 playdriving talent to keep the team afloat. The second line had a big outing, but there’s no answer for the top line getting completely caved in. If the Jets want to seriously contend, they’ll need some help while Little’s out. Copp has been fine in his role alongside Connor and Laine but, obviously, the ideal world is him between Harkins and Roslovic/Appleton. Until such time as the Jets make an acquisition, Copp’s going to have to hold down the fort to the best of his ability.
Please promote Dylan DeMelo as soon as possible.
Poolman is badly in over his head alongside Morrissey. It’s not like Morrissey is playing well either. Josh has been a shell of himself this year, and there are very few games where that hasn’t been the case. DeMelo isn’t an elite blueliner by any stretch, but his clean and simple approach might make Morrissey’s life a bit easier. The only other options aren’t any better and it’s evident that Poolman needs a lighter workload.
The Wild Card race is going to kill me.
The Jets are in the thick of it, whether we like it or not. My personal preference is that I’m selfish and want to see a post-season for Winnipeg. This team should have enough talent to make the dance, and could even be decent if they play the trade deadline well. I’m not really convinced any of my dreams will be made reality, but it’s nice to hope once in a while. In the meantime, Winnipeg gets to face Buffalo and Washington, neither of which is playing well. If the Jets can take 4 out of 6 points here, things will be very solid going forward.