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Game Recap: Winnipeg Jets vs. Florida Panthers

You have to let the past die...

Florida Panthers v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets have spent the last few years being haunted by the same organizational and tactical errors. It’s enough to drive a fan crazy, let alone the players stuck in the same cycles of mediocrity. This season has felt like a breath of fresh air, and while the jury’s still out on just how good this team really is, we’re all having way more fun. The Florida Panthers, led by Paul Maurice, entered Canada Life Centre determined to stomp that fun out of existence. Instead, Florida found itself on the wrong end of a 5-2 walloping. It’s nice when the Jets get to flip the script.

Winnipeg kicked proceedings off with a fast but cagey start. Both the Panthers and Jets sought out ways to get scoring chances in without giving up rapid counters. It’s surprising how good the Jets have been on the counter recently. The Panthers, on the other hand, are a well-known quantity with that sort of offense. Winnipeg was intent on setting the record straight first, and cashed in a beautiful Scheifele netfront goal 13 minutes into the game. Winnipeg’s joy was short-lived when a Verhaeghe equalized less than a minute later. The Jets PK looked decidedly familiar from the Maurice days, a nostalgic throwback all of us could do without. The good news is that Winnipeg refuses to stay down for long, and waited less than 30 seconds to restore the lead thanks to a sneaky wrister from Connor.

Florida Panthers v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The second period saw the Jets tacking on 2 more goals to their 2-1 lead, eager to send Maurice home with a disappointing loss. Winnipeg gashed Florida’s slot defense and looked on the verge of adding even more goals to their tally. The Panthers swapped Knight out for Bobrovsky in an attempt to stem to the tide, but the damage was already done. The Jets were outplaying the Panthers and punishing every mistake. I know Florida is without the services of Barkov and several others, but the Jets still looked pretty impressive. The Connor-Dubois combo and Scheifele’s line all looked hungry for more.

The final frame of action allowed the Jets to take the pedal off the gas a bit. As you’d expect, the Panthers took advantage and scored a goal off the rush to try and reverse momentum. Florida continued to control much of the period, and pushed Hellebuyck to the brink on some excellent scoring chances. The Vezina lad did not shake, though, and met every challenge with his usual excellence. It’s almost eerie to watch Hellebuyck be this good on a routine basis. We’ve seen it for years now, but I’m still amazed by his control every time. Lowry finished the night off with an empty-net goal to make sure the Panthers knew it was over. All hail the Bones Brigade Era of Jets hockey.

Five Takeaways

  1. Winnipeg’s players didn’t exactly respond positively to the ovation for Maurice. Scheifele’s comments in particular were pointed. He wanted to focus on the game, and instead heaped praise on Bones. If that doesn’t tell you the nature of Maurice’s relationship with the room, I don’t know what else will.
  2. The Jets top-6 crafted some absolutely gorgeous goals at 5v5 and 5v4. My favorite might have been the one started by Eyssimont along the walls, and polished off with a glorious KFC finish.
  3. I don’t know if PLD’s future will be in Winnipeg, but I sure hope he changes his mind to stay. When Dubois is on-form (or gets a Home Depot pay raise), he’s virtually unstoppable.
  4. Bones makes me happy to watch Jets games again. For that alone, I like the hiring.
  5. Winnipeg still has much work to do, and could do with a trade or 2 up front. I’m not enamored with the idea of Boeser, but a Kuzmenko, Garland, or Horvat might catch my eye...