I really hate when the Winnipeg Jets lose to Connor McDavid. After a shaky rebound win against the Habs, Winnipeg was tasked with toppling the Edmonton Oilers on the road. Unfortunately, 1 or 2 mistakes and a suffocating gameplan from Dave Tippett conspired to shut down all the things that make the Jets fun. At least we got a Mathieu Perreault goal!
The First Period
The opening 20 minutes really set the stage for what appeared to be a fairly uneventful affair. Edmonton and Winnipeg did a lot of skating but generated very few scoring opportunities out of their rushes. Winnipeg had the edge in chances towards the low slot, but it’s not like many of them were all that dangerous. The Jets were seriously lacking in the shot volume department.
The Oilers didn’t create much either, and you could tell that this game was trending towards “why am I staying up to watch this?” territory. The good news is that Edmonton didn’t score! Neither did the Jets, but who are we to judge? On to the second period, where things got a bit more exciting...
The Second Period
Things were looking promising out of the break, as the Jets immediately swarmed the Oilers. For a solid 5 or so minutes, Winnipeg was paddling Edmonton in the offensive zone. Somehow, the Jets failed to score on a surge of quality chances in tight. Instead, Edmonton broke the scoreless tie first after Morrissey got pressured by Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid. It was an incredibly sloppy turnover and McDavid whipped the puck past Brossoit.
According to the laws of the hockey gods, there must be an equal and opposite reaction for stupid Oilers goals. The Jets got their due on a quality counter from the 4th line, with Perreault pushing centrally up the ice. Thompson put a quality shot/pass/something towards Perreault and the Frenchman tipped it past Koskinen. Things were looking good! Then we found out the laws of the hockey gods all lied, because McDavid scored the go-ahead goal just a minute or 2 later on a nifty pass through the NZ. It was a lead the Oilers would not relinquish, despite a post from Kyle Connor and same great slot chances against Koskinen.
The Third Period
I contemplated putting a GIF of Stanley from the Office falling asleep at his desk for this period, because Edmonton lulled the Jets into a deep offensive slumber. Tippett had the Oilers clogging the NZ and OZ transitions with every single Edmonton skater known to humankind. It was an incredibly boring, but effective, trap scheme, shutting down all the speed and skill the Jets boast. Winnipeg had one final gasp with the goalie pulled, but Mark Scheifele whiffed on a clear chance to tie the game. What a frustrating way to lose to a team that basically did nothing and still eked out both points. I suppose we’re finding out how that feels, considering this is often Winnipeg’s strategy.
I can’t keep harping on Morrissey...
...but I kind of have to. The guy just seems cooked. Maybe overcooked, actually. Josh has been a shell of himself, and is costing the Jets every time he’s on the ice. It’s like having a slightly better Beaulieu out there. Oh, my dear Morrissey, what’s happened to you?
Ehlers was completely shut down, and it neutralized Winnipeg’s offense.
So much of what Winnipeg likes to do is fed through Nik’s transition game. With the Oilers marking Ehlers out completely, the Jets became notably stagnant. The top line could still create offensive zone possessions and Dubois got some good looks in, but you could tell Nik’s silence was deafening. I hope more teams don’t start stifling Ehlers like this.
Winnipeg’s lack of blueline activation continues to kill the forwards.
The Jets seriously refuse to commit the D down past the faceoff circles. They need to stop that behavior because the forwards are struggling out there. The Jets attackers are always isolated and seriously need backend support. That help can’t come at the tail end of every game when the Jets are trailing. Cut the blueline loose, Maurice.