When it rains, it pours. Or, well, since it’s the winter time, I suppose it’s dumping snow somewhere. The Winnipeg Jets are snowballing of a very different sort, and it’s carrying the team to the bottom of the Central Division. Winnipeg entered its Thursday evening matchup against the Vancouver Canucks without a win in its last 5 games. Vancouver presented the perfect opportunity for a rebound victory to stem the bleeding and circulate some good vibes. The Canucks aren’t nearly as good as their recent form suggests, which gave the Jets a solid chance at a win. Instead, we got The Big Sadness.
- Jonathan Kovacevic had a solid NHL debut. The 24-year old Moose defender looked the part of a guy you could trust 10-12 minutes a night to on your third pairing. Winnipeg has been looking for a Tucker Poolman replacement and may have one already getting big pro minutes. It remains to be seen how many games Kovacevic will get this season, but the Jets blueline injuries have surely opened the doors.
- Ville Heinola had a notably better outing, which may sound like a low bar to clear. He’s still figuring out how to adapt his extremely aggressive game to the big club. The Jets are back to being pretty conservative on the backend, which must make Heinola feel like a fish out of water. Once he can calm his decision-making and energy a bit, he should be capable of giving the Jets some quality transition work.
- Winnipeg was pretty lackluster on the whole. The top-6 created some decent opportunities but found scoring against Spencer Martin to be challenging. The depth lines did....something! The lack of finishing talent is getting to be a serious problem with this squad.
- Copp scored the only Jets goal and continues to look like one of the bigger trade deadline candidates for contenders. He should fetch a solid return if the Jets (correctly) choose to let him seek greener pastures.
- Hellebuyck seriously needs a break. He’s been struggling on and off over the last few games and the refusal to turn to Comrie is puzzling. I get that Eric isn’t Hellebuyck’s clone, but even the best need a resting period. The Canucks were one of the softer opponents to give Eric some time in net.
- Winnipeg seems pretty lost right now. The post-game quotes sound like a bunch of guys who don’t know how to fix the myriad of problems plaguing the team. Morale is low and could seriously spiral if the Jets don’t win something soon.
- The upcoming offseason could shape the next 5-10 years of Winnipeg hockey, and it’s critical for the Jets to recruit wisely. The front office and coaching staff both need serious evaluation, top to bottom. Let’s hope Winnipeg can right the ship before I pass on to the next life...