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Game Recap: Winnipeg Jets vs. Montreal Canadiens

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The Jets shot themselves in the foot a few too many times against the Habs.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets are interesting team. I’ve remarked in previous recaps that you seldom know which version of the team you’re getting. Winnipeg can appear in so many “unique” variants, it’s hard to pick a favorite! I prefer the ones where the Jets don’t turn the puck over every 5 seconds. Against the Montreal Canadiens, we unfortunately experienced the Turnover Supreme squad I greatly detest.

The First Period

By all accounts, everything seemed to be lining up for Winnipeg with a strong start. The opening period held a lot of jump for the Jets, with Winnipeg’s top lines creating some serious offensive zone havoc. The third line did its thing and drove towards the slot while Nikolaj Ehlers did his best to make the second line look functional. Despite the early offensive pressure, the Jets were having a hard time finding a way past Carey Price’s pads.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Naturally, the Jets made a single mistake that was immediately punished by Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Copp was along the right wall and fumbled the puck, inadvertently creating a 3-on-1 for the Habs. Forbort tried to make some sort of defensive play and failed spectacularly (not that it was his fault), leading to an early Montreal lead. The Jets surged throughout the remainder of the period, desperately looking for the tying goal. Unfortunately, things like a blown 2-on-1 with Scheifele and Wheeler (SHOOOOOT MARK) did little to improve the situation. The Jets would need to sustain the offensive pressure of the opening 20 minutes in order to right the ship.

The Second Period

Winnipeg was not quite as sharp in period 2, and it showed in some incredibly sloppy turnovers and poor passes. Connor Hellebuyck was more than a bit busy, with the Habs getting dangerous looks on nonsense plays from his defenders. Winnipeg made his life even harder after taking an early penalty. The Jets PK definitely Did Something and Montreal’s Josh Anderson took advantage of chaos down low to score. The Jets answered a few short minutes later, with Kyle Connor wristing a screen shot through Price on the power play. We certainly know KFC can shoot the puck pretty dang well!

The minutes after the power play continued to trend in the “not sharp” category, and a particularly baffling sequence led to the worst goal on the night. Neal Pionk got caught by 3 Montreal skaters deep in the DZ and fed a pass straight to the Habs skater higher in the zone. Pionk was expecting a Jets winger to be there for the outlet but not a single Winnipeg skater was anywhere near close. What the heck were the Jets doing, allowing a lone defender to get trapped in a 3-on-1? Tyler Toffoli made Winnipeg pay for the mistake and the Habs up 3-1.

The Third Period

The Jets tried to get things going in the final period of regulation, but their efforts ended up falling short. The only moment of note was Kyle Connor’s second power play marker of the game. Like the first goal, it was a great release from the right faceoff circle. This time, KFC just smacked the pack as hard as he could and earned a tasty reward. Overall, I thought KFC’s game was a lot better tonight. He actually backchecked and disrupted a few Montreal rushes, which is more than I can usually say.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the goalie pulled, the Jets tried for 1 last desperation sequence. Winnipeg has actually managed to tie it on a number of occasions, but tonight was not that night. Toffoli scored his second goal and pushed the Canadiens out of reach. The Jets will rue their missed chances and extremely stupid turnovers, all of which the Habs seized upon. Winnipeg gets a chance at redemption on Wednesday.

Three Takeaways

Josh Morrissey is seriously cooked.

I don’t know what to do with Josh anymore. The only thing that seems reasonable is to find a way to move his contract. Morrissey is a shell of himself and it doesn’t look like he’ll be recovering his form anytime soon. What a strange and sad saga for the guy we all pegged to be captaining the blueline over the next 8 years.

The second line still isn’t cutting it.

Every time I watch this unit, it feels like Ehlers is doing most of the work while Connor and Dubois are supporting to various degrees of efficacy. Dubois is usually the more active of Nik’s linemates, but even he has trouble being impactful on a regular basis. He was a lot better tonight compared to his outing against the Leafs, but that’s a low bar to clear.

Copp and Perreault need to switch spots.

Mathieu continues to be a monster this year and Winnipeg isn’t making the most of his talents. They need to get more out of Perreault, and Copp isn’t working well on the third line. Switch them around and I have a feeling Winnipeg will reap the benefits.