After a nasty loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, Winnipeg once again opened its doors to the lowly Ottawa Senators. It’s been a difficult season for the Sens, and despite playing decent hockey, their record is absolutely horrendous. In theory, this should have been a relatively soft match-up for the Jets. We all know, of course, that such things do not exist with Winnipeg hockey.
The First Period
My ill omens towards this game ended up rearing their heads early in the first period. The Jets got slapped around for 20 minutes, letting the Sens trod over them inside the defensive zone. Winnipeg’s failed breakouts, sloppy turnovers, and slow footspeed led to virtually no offensive opportunities created in Ottawa’s end. The mistakes only gave the Sens plenty of shooting opportunities, but Connor Hellebuyck stood tall. Despite surrendering something like 17 shots, the scoreline held at 0-0.
After the game, Maurice called this specific period “horses**t”. He’s not wrong, but this has been a continual problem under his tutelage. At some point, the Jets staff needs to figure out why it cannot get this team ready for gameday on a routine basis. You can’t expect to survive these slow starts every game, much less over the course of a season. The Jets were lucky it didn’t bite them this time, but the devil gets his due sooner than later.
The Second Period
The middle frame wasn’t much to write home about either, but the Jets stumbled into a 3-0 lead all the same. After an opening period where the Sens had the control, they suddenly lost it thanks to braindead mistakes. Matt Murray turned the puck over to Mason Appleton at the start of period 2, and Appleton fed Stastny for a quick 1-0 lead. A short while later, Dylan DeMelo deflected a slapshot off of Nik Ehlers’ stick to make it 2-0. To further add insult to injury, the Jets got a late power play that saw the unit rip apart Ottawa’s PK structure. After some lovely attempts, Blake Wheeler finally pounded the puck home to make it 3-0.
It feels weird to think a period where you lead 3-0 wasn’t great, but that’s where I’m at with this middle segment. The Jets had some great goalscoring sequences, to be clear, but the rest of the period.....eh. At least it wasn’t the lopsided pasting of the first period. It wasn’t an ideal 20 minutes, but it’s certainly better to have the big lead!
The Third Period
The Jets started to wear down Ottawa and by the third period, you could tell the Sens have burned up most of their speed. They were still able to get some nice deflections on net and a greasy goal from Josh Norris, but the Jets added 2 goals of their own. Perreault and Pionk each contributed great efforts to pad Winnipeg’s lead at 5-1. The rest of the period went by with Ottawa trying to score and save face. Hellebuyck, however, had other plans.
Overall, I’m not sure what to think of this game. It was pretty bad, but the result certainly rocked. I’m not feeling great about the upcoming stretch of road games, though. The quality of competition is about to get a lot tougher, and this portion of the season will make or break Winnipeg’s playoff dreams. The Jets need to get to work and improve quickly, or risk missing out on any potential post-season runs.
Everyone was pretty bad across the board.
Aside from Hellebuyck, the rest of the Jets were present...and that’s about it. Dubois had a solid game and a few moments to savor, but wasn’t able to get on the scoreboard. Kyle Connor’s early season growth appears to be gone and he’s now back to doing weird stuff in the offensive zone. Even the Ehlers-Scheifele duo struggled a bit, but that’s not surprising when Ottawa paddles you for 20 minutes at a time.
A line-up of 11 forwards and 7 defensemen isn’t great.
The choice to sit a centre in favor of easing Tucker Poolman back in is such a weird choice. It’s not like the rest of Winnipeg’s defense massively improved with Poolman’s addition. The line-up change only added pressure to the Jets forward lines, and the team definitely seemed disheveled for most of the game. Please don’t do that again, Winnipeg, and don’t rush to bring Nate Thompson in either.
I don’t get the Jets.
This is a weird team, man! I was trying to think of another savvy takeaway, but all I could come up with is how bizarre this team is sometimes. The tactical approach, the line-up choices, the wildly varying performances...strange squad, this. Time for my daily #FreeHeinola plug, I guess.