The 2020-21 Winnipeg Jets are truly an enigma. I’ve convinced myself that they’re actually expert memers or online trolls manifested into a hockey team. Even when they’re in control of a game, they’re never really in control. Inception diCaprio would sagely nod and understand this incredibly stupid statement, and yet, it perfectly sums up the Jets. Winnipeg is capable of the amazing and the baffling in equal measure. Against the Ottawa Senators, we got a healthy dose of both.
The First Period
Things got off to a good enough start, with the Jets pouncing on the hapless Sens early. Ottawa was struggling to cleanly exit the defensive zone as the Scheifele line gained some quick offensive possession. The puck distribution was crisp and got Ottawa’s defenders moving wildly. On a line change, the Jets continued to hold OZ possession as Dubois and Stastny hit the ice. Wheeler moved behind the net with the puck and grinded along the walls. He hit Dubois on the left side, and PLD wasted no time going far-post against former teammate Anton Forsberg.
With the 1-0 lead and a hot start, I had hoped Winnipeg would start running the score up quickly. Unfortunately, the Jets got hit with a case of The Dumbs and took 3 consecutive penalties. Despite the lack of discipline, the Jets didn’t give much to the Sens until the last minute or so of the period. Even then, Ottawa recorded less than 10 shots on goal and failed to score. Well....guess we can call that a win!
The Second Period
Ottawa decided getting smacked around is a huge bummer, and started to push the Jets a bit. Their start after the intermission was notably more aggressive, and Winnipeg actually had a few issues containing Ottawa off the rush. The Sens tested Hellebuyck with a few decent chances, but nothing to make the American sweat in net. Instead, the Jets worked a few solid shifts up the ice that resulted in a filthy Lowry snipe. Copp set the play up on a forced turnover while the Sens were trying to escape the DZ. Appleton drifted towards the slot as a decoy and Copp spied a free Lowry across the ice. Adam did the rest and whipped one up high to make it 2-0. Yeesh, Lowry.
The Sens did not sit quietly, scoring around 30 seconds later on a bit of a helter skelter sequence involving Stastny and Wheeler. Blake was doing...something in the slot! I sometimes wonder if KFC’s defensive acumen is rubbing off the Blake. It wasn’t exactly a pretty sequence, and Dzingel cut the deficit to just 1 goal. The Sens being the Sens, they still managed to get in their own way and took a penalty. Dubois was left all alone on the right side while Perreault was drawing attention behind the net. The Jets brutally punished Ottawa for their transgression of daring to attempt a comeback. Adding insult to injury, Connor added goal number 4 off of Chris Tierney’s stick. Winnipeg felt like it was firmly in the driver’s seat of this one.
The Third Period
The funny thing about being behind the wheel of your own destiny is that it’s easy to get distracted by the side-of-the-road attractions. The Jets seemed to face this dilemma because their skaters spaced out a bit as Ottawa turned the heat up. The Sens drew a power play towards the middle of the frame and scored to make us all a touch nervous. The Jets surely wouldn’t blow the lead completely, right? Right?!
Well, Winnipeg got uncomfortably close. Connor Brown scored a late goal off the rush to cut the deficit back down to a goal again. Wheeler and Morrissey were, once again, doing something in the slot. At least Josh was trying to actively clear the crease. Blake was supposed to follow up in support and Just Didn’t. Hey, it’s a Monday, maybe he wasn’t in the mood. The good news is that Winnipeg didn’t concede any more goals, which could have made this recap a lot less fun! Gord bless this mess of a team.
Winnipeg’s defense was a lot more aggressive, and to great effect.
The Jets blueline is a bit ramshackle. That said, it’s got some guys who can skate and shoot, sometimes simultaneously. When the D jump into the rush, things get especially spicy, and Ottawa had no answer for the added pressure. The Jets have been getting a bit more liberal with this policy over the last few games. Keep it up, Winnipeg.
The Jets dominated, but not at some of the most important moments.
This feels strange to write in a 4-3 decision, but when you have a 3-goal lead, you need to snuff the game out. Winnipeg nearly paid the price for failing to do so. This isn’t a new trend either; the Jets seldom kill games off cleanly. They’ll need to sharpen up for their post-season run.
The trade deadline looms ahead...
Winnipeg is supposedly interested in Zadorov. I nearly vomited internally when I heard that. The Jets absolutely do not need to trade for Nikita Zadorov. Stanley, warts and all, is easily the better option. Let your kids do the work for you!