The Winnipeg Jets appear to be in a bit of a death spiral. They’re conceding a crapload of goals and scoring very few, which, in the rules of sportsball, usually means you lose! Tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens was a chance to stop the bleeding and restore a modicum of confidence in Winnipeg’s abilities. Unfortunately, the Jets found hilariously terrible ways to blow a 3-1 lead instead.
The First Period
Winnipeg immediately found itself treading water from the puck drop. The rested Habs were ready to pounce on misplayed passes and poor physical battles anywhere inside Winnipeg’s defensive zone. The Jets looked incredibly sluggish, even moreso than previous losses. You could tell the team wasn’t at the races, and the Habs quickly generated some cheeky scoring opportunities down low.
Connor Hellebuyck, mired in a rough patch as of late, stood tall to keep Montreal scoreless. Despite the chaos in his crease, he kept his composure and held the Habs at bay. Against all odds, the Jets were the team to open the scoring, with Dylan DeMelo hitting Paul Stastny in the central channel of the neutral zone for a clear route to goal. Stastny sped down the slot and ripped it past Jake Allen, a sight for sore eyes indeed. Montreal seemed pretty pissed about that, because they responded with several waves of chances off the rush. The Jets managed to avoid any damage against and went to the break with the 1-0 lead.
The Second Period
The middle frame started off with some promise. The Jets, though still conceding several odd-man rushes and chances against, ended up adding a second goal early on. Jansen Harkins hit Trevor Lewis on a rapid counter up the ice that seemed to catch the Habs napping. Toffoli had just barely missed at the other end, and watched as the American Eagle one-timed a rocket over Allen’s shoulder. Sick!
The Jets, being as they are, just had to make things fun. Scarcely 2 minutes later, Montreal caught the Jets defense napping as Joel Armia weaved his way through the slot. His shot attempt was blocked and rolled back to Nick Suzuki, who whipped the puck past Hellebuyck. It was a goal the Habs deserved, and a frustrating one to concede. Somehow, though, Winnipeg managed to get a lucky break from another Montreal mistake in the Jets end of the ice. Harkins and Lewis found themselves in a 2-on-1 rush counter the other way, and Lewis ripped a short-side rocket for his brace. A 2-goal Trevor Lewis performance is absolutely the work of a monkey’s paw somewhere.
Indeed, the paw appeared to curl at the cost of Winnipeg’s 3-1 lead, because the Jets continued to get hemmed in by Montreal for most of the period. A sloppy Winnipeg turnover in neutral zone sprang the Habs in on a 4-on-2 counter. Artturi Lehkonen capped off the play with a simple snipe. The pain continued a few minutes later when Armia capitalized on some netfront power play chaos to tie the game 3-3. Just....wow. The best I can say is that Winnipeg didn’t give anything else up.
The Third Period
After 40 minutes of hockey, you could tell where this game was going. The Jets were thoroughly in the mud, skating like the ice was a barrel of molasses. Montreal had the speed and skill, continually testing Hellebuyck’s resolve. The Jets netminder held firm while his team’s skaters failed to do much of anything. About 5 minutes before the end of the period, disaster struck. The Jets took a silly penalty and gave the Habs a chance to take 2 points. Suzuki did the rest, blasting one top shelf on a screened Hellebuyck. Toffoli added the requisite empty netter while the Jets ran out of gas chasing the game.
Folks, the next few weeks aren’t gonna be fun. I’d brace for...something. I doubt it’ll involve a coaching change, but if it does, it’s about time. Winnipeg has been letting too many seasons slip by. The time to be aggressive and make change is rapidly approaching.
Winnipeg blew a 3-1 lead, and sucked for most of the game. I don’t have a whole lot else to say.
Winnipeg’s top players aren’t pulling their weight.
The Jets had 2 of 3 goals from Trevor Lewis. Trevor. Freakin’. Lewis. Winnipeg’s goalscoring drought hasn’t been magically solved yet.
Where does the team go from here?
I suppose the Jets have technically been in worse straits, but it can’t be by much. Winnipeg’s in real danger as the playoffs near...