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Game Recap: Winnipeg Jets vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The Jets played 1 period of good hockey, and it was enough!

Chicago Blackhawks v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s been a while since we last saw the Winnipeg Jets take the ice. Nearly 2 weeks of rest meant Winnipeg could catch up on some injury recovery and family time before the final stretch of the regular season kicks off. It’s always nice when your first game back is against one of the worst teams in the NHL. An easy victory against the Chicago Blackhawks would be the perfect way to resume the season. Thanks to a slow start and a passive final period, Winnipeg made the win a lot more challenging than it needed to be.

For the first 20 minutes of the game, you’d be forgiven for wondering if Winnipeg knew the game had begun. The Jets looked rusty and sluggish, turning over the puck carelessly and looking like a few too many pina coladas had caught up. Connor Hellebuyck had to be his typically brilliant self, shutting down some Hawks power play chances that could have put Winnipeg in a bind. The Jets didn’t generate much offensively, and seemed content to end the period 0-0.

Chicago Blackhawks v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

The middle frame finally got Winnipeg back up to speed. A great Morrissey backhand goal and a long stretch of power play time shortly after had the Jets rolling through Chicago. The Hawks struggled to contend with Winnipeg’s offensive zone pressure, and before long, the Jets found themselves up 3-0. Goals from Scheifele and Wheeler made their outings look a bit better than they had been up until this point. Winnipeg looked thoroughly in control for the remainder of the period, reminding Chicago of why the Jets had outscored them something like 14-3 coming into the evening.

After the fiery second period, you’d hope the Jets would close out the game cleanly. Instead, Winnipeg took the foot off the gas and let Chicago put Hellebuyck under pressure. Tyler Johnson took advantage of Winnipeg’s lackadaisical defensive coverage and got the Hawks to within 2 goals. I don’t mind slowing the game down a bit once you’ve got a healthy lead, but surrendering goals cheaply shouldn’t be tolerated. I also wonder about the players Bowness trusts to defend late leads. He likes big, physical skaters, but most of them aren’t all that great at protecting Winnipeg’s advantage. Thankfully, it didn’t bite the Jets this time. Wheeler polished the evening off with an empty-netter, but Winnipeg will want to tidy up before stronger opponents arrive.

Five Takeaways

  1. Samberg continues to be a very nice second-pairing blueliner. He doesn’t have a ton of flash, but that’s perfectly fine. What he brings is quality two-way defensive work, and he managed his offside quite cleanly.
  2. Pionk’s tough to watch.
  3. The top-6 was a bit lackluster. The Scheifele line in particular looks like it needs a dose of a certain highly-skilled San Jose Sharks forward...
  4. Max Domi and James van Riemsdyk have been linked to Winnipeg a lot. Both skaters would probably be great third-line scoring options. Hope they’re inexpensive!
  5. Winnipeg basically played 1 good period out of 3, and it was enough against Chicago. They should probably avoid making that a habit again.