The Winnipeg Jets are truly an Experience. Every game is something different, but after 2 xG bloodbaths against the Toronto Maple Leafs, I was expecting a bit of consistency for round 3. The Jets are hardly a juggernaut at either end of the ice, and yet managed to steal 3 of 4 points in the first few games. Without Connor Hellebuyck in net to bail the team out, the team needed to be perfect to win. By Winnipeg standards, the Jets were darn near close to the ideal performance and earned a great result.
The First Period
Things didn’t get off to a great start after Pierre Engvall gave Winnipeg an early scare. The Leafs forward cleanly beat Laurent Brossoit just a minute or so into the game. To our collective relief (releaf?), the goal was waved off due to a hand-pass during the sequence. The Jets still weren’t quite in gear after the first few minutes, and it felt like Toronto could score on a shaky Brossoit at any moment. Winnipeg eventually started to create some offensive pressure as the period wore on, creating some really dangerous looks near Andersen.
Unfortunately, no opportunity found its way past Freddie. At the other end, the Jets refused to concede anything of note. Winnipeg kept the Leafs away from the slot in a way the previous games severely lacked. We’ve all been looking for a stronger defensive effort from the team, and this was decently close to ideal, given the circumstances. Both teams entered the break at 0-0. Not too shabby, all told.
The Second Period
If the first period put you to sleep, the second frame surely roused you from your slumber. The Jets opened the scoring quickly, with the third line grabbing a mildly fluky marker from Mason Appleton. The apple of my eye played a 2-on-1 with Lowry perfectly, deflecting a puck off of his skate past Andersen. While the goal itself was a bit fortunate, the net-drive and approach was exactly what you’d want from Mason. This kid is truly something. Unfortunately, the fun hit a bit of a snag on a bad Jets power play. Winnipeg just looked incredibly sloppy in possession and the Leafs countered. Somehow, Toronto had an odd-man rush the other way and Jake Muzzin scored shorthanded to tie the game. Where were any of the Jets forwards to try and disrupt the play?
Things got even more frustrating when William Nylander scored a greasy goal through Brossoit’s pads. Laurent hadn’t looked great in the opening period, and 2 quick goals against did nothing to alleviate the concern. The Jets seemed unbothered and continued to chip away at Toronto’s defensive structure. Winnipeg was aggressive and actively creating in the Leafs zone, eventually leading to a tying goal from Paul Stastny. It was a double deflection off of a Logan Stanley point shot. Congrats to Logan on his first NHL point. May it be the first of many!
The Third Period
After a pretty good second period with 2 annoying blemishes, the Jets pulverized Toronto into a fine mist. The Leafs got creamed by the Lowry line and failed to generate much of anything in Winnipeg’s end. Even when Toronto had zone possession, the Jets quickly disrupted their puckcarriers and countered back up the ice. This was about as strong a performance as you could ask for, especially against a talented Leafs roster.
The third line, dominating the game all evening, scored the game-winner off of a great pass from Appleton. Lowry hit the net from the left side, breaking his 19-game goalless streak. It was a completely deserved reward for a hard-working night from the centre. This line, which had seemingly stalled out recently, crushed Toronto on almost every shift. Ehlers and Scheifele added a few left flank power play snipes to seal the deal. Incredibly, the Jets actually played an incredibly strong game against the best team in the North, earning both points in the process. Let’s go lads!
The second line needs some work.
This is probably the only real issue on the night. Dubois and Connor were pretty bad, and it continues to be a trend with this line. I’m not sure if Dubois is struggling with the way Winnipeg does things, but he’s not fitting in alongside Connor. I’d try and find another spot for KFC where he’s less of a drag.
Stanley had another solid outing on the third pairing.
The massive lad has been a welcome sight over Beaulieu. While Logan still has some turnover and acceleration issues in pursuit, his overall game is pretty sound. He had some nice work along the walls and denied several zone entries. The assist was gravy on the evening.
Winnipeg’s third line smoked the competition.
I’ve been wondering if the trio of Copp-Lowry-Appleton needs to be split up. Tonight’s game is a mark against that notion. If they regain their rhythm and continue to play like this through the rest of the season, my word.