The Winnipeg Jets played their best game of the season against the St. Louis Blues earlier this week. Apparently, the Jets love to balance things, because they played one of their worst against the LA Kings. Despite getting run over for nearly 3 full periods, the Jets managed to squeeze out a regulation victory. If you’re wondering how, the answer is Connor Hellebuyck. Jonathan Quick also played a bit of a factor, but in a rather different manner than his opposite number in-goal.
From puck-drop, you could tell the Jets were in for a rough evening. The Kings swarmed the Jets puck-carriers, forcing turnovers and pressuring Winnipeg into silly mistakes. The Jets turned the puck over repeatedly and failed to exit the defensive zone on countless opportunities. The name of the game was “speed”, and it killed the Jets. The Kings were faster in all areas of the ice, and it put Winnipeg on the backheel for the whole evening. I’m pretty sure LA registered something like 9 or 11 shots before the Jets recorded their second of the night. Thankfully, Saint Hellebuyck stood tall in net. You might see 3 goals against in the first period and wonder why I’m singing Helly’s praises, but he was hung out to dry. Anyone else between the sticks, and the scoreline could easily have been a 5-spot.
Unsurprisingly, Winnipeg “vibes’d” a victory out of LA’s mistakes, including a breakaway Scheifele goal and a shorthanded Lowry marker. Quick simply wasn’t on Hellebuyck’s level, and surrendered a number of goals that put the Kings in a bind. By the end of the second period, a 3-1 LA lead had evaporated into a 3-4 deficit. The Kings managed to nab a goal back in the third on a bad Dubois turnover, but the Jets fourth line found yet another answer, with Jonsson-Fjällby deflecting a puck past Quick for the game-winner. It capped off a beautiful shift from the Gustafsson line, and couldn’t have come at a better time. Winnipeg added an empty-netter courtesy of Wheeler, though Hellebuyck still had to bail the team out a few more times before all was said and done.
This was a bit of a disaster, but the Jets still came out on the right side of the ledger. They didn’t deserve the win, but they’ll take it. I can’t say it portends great things for a weekend rematch against the Golden Knights, but maybe Winnipeg will surprise us. This team is a wild ride, and all we can do is strap in and hope for the best.
- I say this a lot, but seriously; Connor Hellebuyck.
- Gustafsson continues to impress me. I really think his ceiling is significantly higher than that of a fourth line scrub. If the Jets ever realize that and promote him higher up the line-up, I think there’s a great top-9 centre there.
- The Appleton experiment on the first line needs to end. I’d make a few changes to try and balance the top-6, but that one needs to happen as soon as possible.
- The Jets sorely need transition, speed, and puck-carrying ability. There aren’t enough skaters on the team good at all 3 skills, and it’s shown. I hope Ehlers can return soon.
- Bones continues to recover from his bout with COVID. I hope he’s doing alright...