Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: Apr. 23

Odds and Ends on the Winnipeg Jets and the NHL –

Some random facts and a few thoughts about the Winnipeg Jets, the Manitoba Moose, and the National Hockey League.  

1.  First mission accomplished.  This franchise needed to win their first playoff game, the next step was to win their first series, and now the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise has won their first playoff series.  Thanks to Connor Hellebuyck’s back-to-back shutouts, the good guys won games four and five and will now face the Nashville Predators in round two.  The Thrasher/Jets playoff record went from 0-8 to 4-9.  It’s getting better.    

2.  The Manitoba Moose split their two first-round playoff home games versus the Grand Rapids Griffins and are going to be in tough trying to win their opening-round playoff series with the next three games (if necessary) in their best-of-five series being played in Grand Rapids.

3.  Three Stars:  My three stars for the first series, in no particular order, were Dustin Byfuglien, Connor Hellebuyck, and Mark Scheifele.          

4.  On the day that Connor Hellebuyck shutout the Minnesota Wild 2-0 in pivotal game four to give the Jets a commanding 3-1 series lead, he was named one of the three finalists for the 2017-18 Vezina Trophy which is awarded to the NHL’s top goaltender.  What a terrific accomplishment for a goalie that was pencilled in as the back-up coming out of training camp.  CONGRATS HELLE!   

5.  As thrilled as I am with the Winnipeg Jets opening round win over the Wild, I must admit I’m concerned with the number of injuries.  It’s only five games in and Mathieu Perreault, Tyler Myers, Nik Ehlers, and Joel Armia have all missed games and the depth is already being tested with Dmitry Kulikov and Toby Enstrom already on the IR.         

6.  I must admit I didn’t expect much from Joe Morrow when the Winnipeg Jets acquired him at the trade deadline but I have been pleasantly surprised by his solid play and that’s just not my Portland Winterhawks bias kicking in.  He was a terrific player in the WHL.  Morrow really didn’t catch much traction in the NHL but he has turned into a pretty important depth piece for the Jets.          

7.  The Winnipeg Jets lost Josh Morrissey to a one-game suspension because of incompetent officiating.  The failure of the referees Steve Kozari and Brian Pochmara along with linesmen Tony Sericolo and Pierre Racicot to make the call on Josh Morrissey’s crosscheck to Eric Staal’s neck brought the league into the equation.  Instead of losing Morrissey for two, four, or even five minutes, the shorthanded Jets lost him for a whole game.  This is only one example of a week’s worth of blown calls.  The NHL is the most horribly officiated of ANY of the major sports.  

8.  Priceless moment:  I guess Paul Maurice thought it was just another game or he forgot he just won the series but after the final buzzer he shook hands with his assistants and bolted down the hallway to the Jets dressing room just like he always does and had to be called back out for the traditional handshake.  Awesome PoMo!     

9.  I’m not just saying this because of the Jets record this year because I’ve been saying this for the past couple of seasons BUT how is it possible for the #1 and #2 teams in the NHL’s overall standings to meet in the second round of the playoffs?  This reeks of the old Smythe Division days and I don’t get Gary Bettman’s fascination with divisional play and his basketball brackets?  Let’s just stick to conference play GARY.  I find it ironic that the league you come from uses the conference format.  I like a balanced conference schedule and the 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, and 4 vs 5 playoff match-ups and re-seeding after each round.  In this format, neither Vegas or San Jose would have home-ice in the second round.           

10.  Patrik Laine had a decent first round notching two goals and two assists but it was his physical play that really impressed me.  I have no worries about this twenty-year-olds lack of playoff experience.  You can tell he has played on the big stage before.  

  

11.  Connor Hellebuyck became the first goaltender in Winnipeg Jets 1.0 or 2.0 history to record a playoff shutout.  He now has two and hopefully, he has many more to come.    

12.  Pet Peeve:  I’m getting a little tired of the narrative that the Vegas Golden Knights are made up of players that nobody else wanted.  ENOUGH OF THIS PLEASE!  The expansion rules were set up so NHL teams were going to lose good players and I can guarantee you that almost every team that lost a player to the Golden Knights HATED giving up that player.  There were some tough decisions that had to be made and Vegas were definitely the benefactor.                                                                                          

13.  I guess Markus Foligno only had one game of running around hitting everything in sight in him.  There are contenders and there are pretenders and I guess we know which category he falls into. 

14.  If he wasn’t already, I think Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba really established himself as top-flight NHL player.  I thought he was excellent for the Minnesota Wild in the opening round.                                                                                 

15.  I thought Kyle Connor was just okay in the first round.  I was a little concerned with his play in the defensive zone.  Luckily, it really didn’t cost the Jets. 

16.  Jacob Trouba was very good defensively in the first round BUT his decisions with the puck and his lack of physical play are very concerning for me.  Jake isn’t even the most physical player in his pairing.    

17.  I wonder how Habs fans felt about the Jets fans singing “Sha-na-na-na … Sha-na-na-na … Hey-hey-hey … Good-bye” on Friday night?  Lot’s of teams do it when eliminating an opponent from the playoffs but I always thought it was more of a Montreal thing.  

18.  I’m glad the Avalanche weren’t eliminated from the playoffs by Nick Bonino’s kicked in goal midway through the third period of game five in Nashville.  It was a close call and the original call on the ice was “no goal” but it was overturned after being reviewed.  The Avs stormed back with two late goals of their own to win game five 2-1 and force a game six in Colorado.     

19. Goaltending:

  • Conner Hellebuyck:  4-1 … 1.94 GAA … .924 SV%             
  • Steve Mason:  0-0 … 0.00 GAA … 1.000 SV% 

20.  Special Teams after three games:  Rule of thumb.  Have the two red numbers total at least 100% when added.  (as your minimum) 

  • PP:  6th at 23.1% … up from 11th at 20.00% after the first three games.    
  • PK:  10th at 76.9 … up from 12th at 62.50% after the first three games.  

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If you have any thoughts on any of these comments or questions, please let me know.  We would love to hear your opinions.

Thanks, Mitch 

Use the “Comment Section” below.

Comments

  1. Mitch, I was annoyed that the Jets seemed too eager to change-up the configuration on their awesome first-unit powerplay in response to the Wild trying to prevent Wheeler from passing to Laine & Scheifele. The Jets have other options on their base configuration, including the under-used Stastny (look what happened on their 5th goal in game 5). It was frustrating watching Wheeler switch sides and seeing Stastny and Laine back at the point, with Buff in front of the net. Smacked of over-coaching, to me! Your thoughts, Mitch?

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      It has actually been a few weeks that teams were starting to catch on … I think the main configuration will always be the first choice … I think they were just trying to show another look to unsettle the opposition PK

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