In a series where Calgary has done its best to make me hate the entire province of Alberta for the rest of time, it stands to reason that the Jets would once again get hurt. They’re already down Mark Scheifele, Mason Appleton, and Patrik Laine. What’s a few more serious injuries at this point? Things can’t get worse, right?
Well, all told, things really didn’t get worse. I’ve accepted a series loss as an acceptable outcome, especially given the circumstances. We always knew the Jets getting ousted in the play-in round was a possibility, but bowing out for a 12.5% chance at the first overall pick is hardly the worst outcome. Tonight’s game solidified the feeling of resignation for me, with Mathieu Perreault exiting with a lower body injury. Sam Bennett, who creamed Josh Morrissey the other night, slammed Perreault into the bench boards away from the puck. Perreault’s knee appeared to buckle and the Flames bench reportedly yelled, “That’s what you get for diving!” It was fairly dirty and I hope Player Safety gives Sam a call.
Tucker Poolman also sustained an injury, blocking a Mikael Backlund shot with the side of his face. Naturally, he too exited the game for repairs but actually managed to return. Honestly, he might have been better served just taking the rest of the night off. The Jets made a lot of brutal mistakes and lacked the same gear they had yesterday. With dwindling forward reserves and a goony Flames squad, winning just wasn’t meant to be.
Things did start quite positively, though, with a seesaw first period that got the Jets on the board thanks to Nikolaj Ehlers. The Great Dane nabbed a sweet neutral zone stretch pass from Dmitry Kulikov, absolutely burning the entire Flames roster in one fell swoop. The joy was short-lived, though, as the Jets took a phantom slashing call and promptly surrendered a goal on the PK. The PK getting gashed was, regrettably, a common theme on the night.
The second period saw Winnipeg start to come apart at the seams. Connor Hellebuyck, who seemed a bit shakier on some sharp-angle shots, had a mix-up behind the net with Neal Pionk. This recap’s header image of Hellebuyck staring at his own net as the puck flies by him was brought to you by this comedic moment. Hellebuyck should have stayed in his net instead of playing the puck, and Pionk only made matters worse. Sean Monahan added insult to injury a few minutes later with a power play goal (ugh). Andrew Copp finally got the Jets power play on the board with a nifty backhand a few seconds later, but it wasn’t enough.
The Flames added goals from Matthew Tkachuk, Milan Lucic (lolololol), and Johnny Gaudreau to seal the 6-2 victory over the Jets. Watching Winnipeg struggle on special teams really tells the story of the series. At even-strength, the Jets have genuinely been decent. On the man advantage or disadvantage, though, Winnipeg has gotten butchered. The absence of Scheifele and Laine has only aggravated issues that existed when they were still in the line-up. At this point, I’m just hoping Thursday’s game is fun and competitive. Screw the Flames.
Just wrap everyone in bubble-wrap.
Seriously. I’m tired of EVERYONE I ENJOY WATCHING PLAY HOCKEY GET HURT.
Win or lose, the Jets gave their utmost.
Winnipeg showed a lot of heart during this series. Heart isn’t always rewarded, but it is very appreciated. There are some players that may need to have their futures with the club re-evaluated in the off-season, but that conversation will be at another time. If nothing else, the Jets have tried their best to give us entertaining hockey, and that’s all I can ask for.
Thursday remains a major test.
I want the Jets to make the potential last game of the series one to remember. We’ve seen some crazy moments through the bubble post-season, and the Jets are definitely capable of giving us a few more. They responded well after the first loss, so I expect them to come out swinging in just a few days.