The Winnipeg Jets have an uncanny ability to stand in the way of their own success. Whether it’s mediocre roster management, suboptimal line-ups, bad coaching, or poor play on the ice, it feels like the Jets are constantly fighting self-inflicted demons. Those demons manifested in a big way against the Carolina Hurricanes. No one will suggest this was an easy game, but the Jets played well enough for much of it to earn a point. Unfortunately, bad goaltending, a horrendous number of turnovers, and a nonexistent first line killed Winnipeg’s hopes.
Things started off tentatively, with the Jets and Canes both looking to avoid an early blunder. When it comes to avoiding mistakes, we all know Winnipeg virtually never wins these stare-downs. The Jets blinked first, with Brendan Dillon backhanding a pass right to a Carolina skater. Jaccob Slavin punished Winnipeg’s folly, much to the annoyance of Jets fans in attendance. Winnipeg struggled to generate much offensively, looking to create off of rush counters.
The second period kicked off in bizarre fashion. Dylan Samberg caught Jordan Martinook with a shoulder check near the blueline, injuring Martinook. It all led to a scrum near the right faceoff circle, but the whistle never blew. Dylan DeMelo decided to seize the initiative and drove down the ice with possession while everyone was distracted. He calmly picked his corner on a 2-on-1, tying the game in bewildering fashion. The Canes had their revenge scarcely 30 seconds later, with Brady Skjei picking his own corner to restore Carolina’s lead. Jesperi Kotkaniemi added to the Canes lead near the halfway point, beating Rittich on a wraparound that Dave really should have had.
The final period of action was frantic. Winnipeg was chasing the game, and the second line looked the most likely to get the Jets back in it. Ehlers did his thing and deposited a Wheeler pass behind Andersen, bringing the Jets to within a goal. It felt like Winnipeg might actually pull the comeback off....that is, until a Stenlund backpass caught Pionk off-guard. Neal missed the puck and watched as Jack Drury blasted it by Rittich. Nino Niederreiter did his best to get the Jets back on track with a third Winnipeg goal, but the damage was already done. Winnipeg fell 5-3 after an empty-netter crushed the last hopes and dreams of Jets fans everywhere.
- The first line was so bad, Bones legitimately benched them for nearly half a period. I’ve never seen a Jets coach do that with an entire group before, but it was justified. I didn’t like the solution of putting Appleton up top in place of Nino, but it is what it is.
- Kyle Connor is a black hole on the ice when he isn’t scoring. It wasn’t as bad at the start of this season, but the last month has been utterly disastrous for him.
- Barron, Nino, and Namestnikov continue to do well for the Jets. Barron, in particular, seems like he’d be worth promoting a bit further up the line-up.
- Rittich just doesn’t cut it as the back-up. I know he’s not expected to play a lot, but the Jets really shouldn’t cheap out on the #2 going forward.
- I am running out of ways to say Pionk is having a mare.