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Game Recap: Winnipeg Jets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs


NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets entered Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs looking for blood. You could tell there was an added level of angst, especially after a Toronto elbow ended in a concussion to Adam Lowry. Going in with a bloodfeud usually doesn’t end in joy, especially when it comes to Winnipeg. This team can’t defend at even-strength, let alone the PK, so the prospects for this game weren’t feeling great. Unfortunately, what followed was actually worse than I expected.

The First Period

The game started off warmly enough! The line of Stastny-Dubois-Ehlers got off to a roaring start, with Dubois leading a great zone entry with his linemates. He and Paul worked a quick give-and-go to Ehlers that saw the Dane pot a nifty feed over Jack Campbell’s shoulder. A 1-0 lead, in this economy?! Of course, said economy failed to support a Winnipeg lead for long, as a bizarre high-to-low sequence drew the Jets defenders away from their territory near Hellebuyck. Andrew Copp was alone with Joe Thornton in front of the net, and Jumbo easily outworked Copp for a wraparound goal. I’m not even going to attempt to explain what DeMelo, Copp, or Stanley were doing on this sequence.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Things got even more frustrating a few minutes later when Toronto dumped the puck off the wall from the neutral zone. Hellebuyck came out to play it, but like the Byron goal a few weeks ago, the puck bounced towards a Leafs skater instead. Marner calmly dispatched the empty netter to put the Leafs ahead 2-1. It was a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the period.

The Second Period

I’m going to be honest...this period was a disaster. The Jets lost their composure and utterly caved in every department to the Leafs. It was so bad that, on a 4-on-4 situation, Scheifele committed several dumb mistakes that led to a Leafs rush for a Tavares goal. Maurice probably bench Scheifele for a chunk of the game after that, leaving Winnipeg to fight for the scraps. This benching is the right message, but far too late to make a difference. Mark’s had much crappier seasons than this. Why try to apply punitive measures now?

Winnipeg tried to add its own goonery to the mix. I think they were expecting physicality to win the night against a team that has both skill and muscle. Unfortunately, the Jets just looked like a disorganized mess against a much better team. Sure, the Leafs aren’t exactly the cleanest of teams, but they also have the ability to hurt you on the scoresheet. Abandoning your gameplan in favor of HITZ won’t win you any awards.

The Third Period

The game didn’t get any better. If you were hoping for the Jets to miraculously comeback and win it...well, you’re gonna be disappointed. Campbell had to make a few decent stops but Hellebuyck was absolutely robbing Toronto at the other end. I don’t want to look at tonight’s xGA because it won’t be pretty. The Jets offense basically did nothing, continuing the trend from the second period. Folks, I don’t want to be alarmist, but Winnipeg has been playing some real rough hockey against the teams they’ll face in the post-season. Not inspiring, y’all!

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Three Takeaways

Winnipeg got smoked after such a bright start.

I honestly thought the Jets were gonna have a great outing after the first minute. That hope died very quickly. Winnipeg might be second in the division right now, but that hold on the spot is tenuous at best. Edmonton is right behind them and, oh, well, would you look at that! The Oilers are Winnipeg’s next opponent...

Heinola got demoted on a day when Winnipeg’s blueline got thrashed.

How fitting.

The playoffs are looking like a very shot trip right now.

Winnipeg is genuinely struggling against their potential post-season opponents, and only one of them is actually a good team. If the ship isn’t righted soon, the Jets won’t be playing many playoff games at all.