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Game Recap: Winnipeg Jets vs. Edmonton Oilers

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets played hard in the rematch, but ultimately fell 2-1 in a shootout. They defended very well, but with McDavid and Draisaitl on the other side, simply defending well isn’t enough to get the job done. They needed to add some offence of their own and couldn’t get it done. It wasn’t a bad game from the Jets, but there are some things they will need to fix if they want to go from real good team status to contender status. Combining some positives and negatives, here are 7 thoughts:

  1. The Jets should move Svechnikov back up with Connor and Dubois. They were flat out dominant as a trio, and Blake Wheeler hasn’t been able to keep the pace that those two want to play at. Wheeler may be best served playing with Paul Stastny when he returns.
  2. Nikolaj Ehlers should try and take over the play more often. He’s now scored in back to back games, but seems to be driving less offence than in recent years. Hopefully he can turn those goals into momentum going forward.
  3. Riley Nash needs to be taken as far away from the power play as physically possible. He hasn’t been able to put a pass to a shooter in a place it can be received, let alone in a shooter’s wheelhouse. Also please don’t bring up the right handed shot thing; he took Paul Stastny’s spot on that unit who is left handed. Either of Svechnikov or Vesalainen would be a monumental upgrade over Nash in that spot.
  4. When the line combinations are optimal, the Jets’ top 6 has been able to take over games. Their bottom 6 hasn’t been nearly as good though, so if the top 6 gets mostly shut down like they did tonight, they’re going to need more from that bottom 6. None of Harkins, Vesalainen, Toninato, or Nash have done anything to cement their spot in the lineup, and I might look to call up a guy like David Gustafsson to help shift possession for this team when that bottom 6 is out there and waive a guy like Toninato.
  5. The transition game from the blue line is inconsistent. Morrissey and Schmidt have gotten it done from that standpoint, and Dillon and Pionk have been much improved defensively as of late, but the transition game from that second pair is spotty, and the transition game from the third pair just hasn’t been enough at all to help create chances for the Jets’ forwards. DeMelo has been outstanding defensively yet again, and I just wonder how good a pairing with him and Ville Heinola could be. I think it’s something the Jets should look at in order to create more consistent offence, and possibly a really strong defensive pairing with two players that seemingly compliment each other perfectly. Remember back to how good they were together in training camp and preseason.
  6. Connor Hellebuyck is back to playing like an elite netminder. I think the majority of fans expected this, but he looks dialed in now, and that is paramount for this team if they want to be a contender.
  7. This team is good. They’ve played well for the most part without having their two best players from the last two years, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele, playing at a high level. If those guys can get going at a level we’ve come to expect from them, it will be exciting to see what this team does. The team isn’t perfect by any means, but the foundation is there to be a contender if the right decisions are made. It’s a fun time to be a Jets fan, much more so than the last two years anyway.