It is almost the accursedly magical time of the year where we all log-on and yell about Winnipeg Jets hockey! For the time being, however, we’ll have to be content with pre-season hockey. This is a perfect time to scout out Rick Bowness’ philosophy of hockey, a doctrine we’ve been hearing about for months. From the first few games, I have to say...Bones lives up to his words. He spoke at length about aggressive defenders across all 3 zones, and we’ve seen exactly that. As you’d expect, the results have been a bit of a mixed bag as the Jets are struggling to adjust. However, I’d much rather the team get into the mindset of aggressive, risk-taking hockey instead of the Maurice turtling the team slogged through previously.
That brings us to game 2 of the pre-season against the Ottawa Senators, who were actually just the Belleville Sens in disguise. The AHL-heavy line-up gave the Jets some serious fits for roughly half the game. The Jets brought out a starter-laden team and promptly failed to create meaningful offense for 30-40 minutes. Worse yet, the blueline corps. got absolutely rocked on a number of bad mistakes. Every defender barring Morrissey struggled to make a positive impact.
Despite the issues plaguing the team, Winnipeg managed to rally on the back of some impressive individual performances from rookies and depth players. Daniel Torgersson bagged himself 2 great goals and nearly completed the hat trick, all while menacing Ottawa’s helpless skaters. Saku Mäenalanen was a consistent offensive zone pest and seemed to create space constantly. Some of that created space might just be a spot on Winnipeg’s 4th line in a few weeks. Ville Heinola also chipped in a nice goal of his own, redirecting a slick feed from Lowry past the keeper. That presence of mind to jump into the rush counter and convert a scoring opportunity might have done enough to earn the 6th D spot. Neither Samberg nor Stanley have had prominent enough showings to match that.
After all is said and done, the Jets won in relatively unspectacular fashion. Connor notched a few goals but you’d expect that against an AHL squad. I was mostly pleased to see some of the younger players stepping up and giving the Jets a few more line-up considerations for this season. I suspect very few of these lads will solve Winnipeg’s scoring woes, but a competent bottom-6 is still a starting point. Bones will need every bit of support he can get to make any sort of post-season run.
What did you think of the game? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.