The Winnipeg Jets finished their longest residency of the season with a 5-1-1 record after beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 Tuesday evening at the Canada Life Center.
Now that the seven-game homestand has passed, it’s time to make a few observations about it… seven, to be exact.
1) Jets don’t need everyone to shoot all cylinders all the time
Jets’ teams from seasons past wouldn’t be in first place in the Central Division if their number one center and captain combined for just two goals and nine assists in 15 games. But the 2021-22 build has enviable offensive depth, and that depth has served them well – they’ve helped the team succeed despite the slower starts of Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
Kyle Connor, (12 goals, eight assists) Andrew Copp, (five goals, 11 assists) Pierre-Luc Dubois, (nine goals, six assists) Nikolaj Ehlers, (four goals, seven assists) and Paul Stastny (four goals, four assists but currently absent due to a foot injury) are among the forwards who have taken over.
It’s pretty telling how much head coach Paul Maurice has in the front row of Connor, Dubois and Evgeny Svechnikov that when Scheifele and Wheeler got out of the COVID-19 protocol, he put them in third row with Adam. Lowry instead of reuniting them with Connor. They weren’t placed in the top six until the final stages of Saturday’s game against the Kings, and the front row remained intact until Maurice launched some new looks against McDavid and the Oilers.
“When you miss a few opportunities, you feel a little bit bitten by a snake,” he admitted on Monday. “I just want to keep doing the right things defensively and let the rest of the game take over, don’t try to chase it, don’t try to do it all in one quarter and score 100 goals in a second. It’s just a matter of doing the right things over and over again and when you do, you get rewarded.
While Wheeler is now more suited to a role in the bottom six as he struggles to stay five-on-five with his opponents’ best guns, increased production on his part would make an already powerful attack even more formidable.
2) The “hockey gods” are not always fair
The Jets controlled the pace of play against the St. Louis Blues last Tuesday, but were not rewarded with a win. While they dominated the visitors overall and had tons of chances, they were thwarted by Jordan Binnington – who made 41 saves – and lost in a shootout.
After a dominant 4-1 victory Thursday over the San Jose Sharks, the Jets did not excel at all against the Kings on Saturday. They were particularly anemic in the second half, as they generated just two shots and had a 10:48 stretch without shooting Cal Petersen.
Despite that, they came home with two points thanks to a shorthanded equalizer from home defenseman Dylan DeMelo – who lit the lamp for the first time since March 21, 2019 and for the first time as a Jet. – and the winner of overtime at Scheifele.
“Yeah, that was awesome. Obviously, a huge relief, there was certainly some frustration ”, DeMelo said after the game for having spent so long aimlessly. “Obviously you’re playing defense that you might not count on to score, but you want to contribute, and you obviously don’t want to score, so it was good to have that one and the timing was crucial.
Hockey is a fun game. Sometimes you play well and feel that you deserve better from the powers that be, and sometimes you don’t play well at all but the “hockey gods” are with you.
3) Jets continue to be offended by defenders
The Jets’ revamped defense added another element to their offensive offense, with a significant portion of the team’s points coming from mobile defenders moving the puck and unafraid to jump into the game.
The Jets backs have seven goals and 33 assists, with Nate Schmidt (11 points), Neal Pionk (10 points) and Josh Morrissey (eight points) in the lead.
“We have a lot of offense up front and a lot of guys who can make plays and who can find you with great passes. I think it’s a luxury that we have as defenders to be able to stand up and be available, they’re going to find you, you just have to keep your stick on the ice, ”Brenden Dillon, who is came to the Jets during an offseason trade. with the Washington Capitals, said monday. “It’s always nice to be rewarded like in the last two games… to be able to participate and help, I just think that makes the team wins even more enjoyable and to have some success like we had. as a team.
Brenden Dillon on the attack from Jets defenders
Defensemen’s 2.66 per game average is quite a bump compared to last season. In the 2020-21 56-game campaign, the Jets’ d-men had 81 total points (46 coming from Morrissey and Pionk alone), averaging just 1.44 per game.
5) The Jets experiment “11 Forward, 7 Defencemen” seems to be over
The Jets played their first two games of the 2021-22 season with four full lines, but after Scheifele and Wheeler both entered COVID-19 protocol they were forced to go with 11 forwards and seven defenders . Having players in the COVID-19 protocol does not provide any relief from the salary cap and the Jets hit the cap on the cap, so they couldn’t call anyone.
The Jets first scored 11 and seven on Oct. 19 against the Minnesota Wild and did so for nine straight games. They went 6-1-2 over time, with many players benefiting from the extra ice time.
Related: Jets’ 11 Forward, 7D Strategy Helping Players Thrive
Despite its success, the experiment seems over for now. In the last four games, the Jets have rolled four traditional lines, with seventh defenseman Nathan Beaulieu coming off the roster and center Riley Nash returning to anchor the fourth line with Dominic Toninato and Kristian Vesalainen.
6) Dealing with a Canadian team seemed like fun again
The Jets played their first anthem game of the season on Tuesday after facing all-American opponents in their first 14. and playoff game against the other six Canadian teams.
Related: The 5 Best Jets Games Of 2020-21
In this author’s opinion, the lack of variety of opponents waned in April, with rivalries and misunderstanding not developing as much as many had hoped.
The Jets’ next two games are also against Canadian teams (they play in Edmonton on Thursday and Vancouver on Friday) and they will face Canadian opponents only a dozen times thereafter. These games are more fun to watch when they aren’t as frequent – the absence really makes the heart fonder.
7) The Heritage blue jersey looks amazing
The Jets donned their new official third jersey – the Heritage Blue – for four consecutive matches during the homestand and have they ever been fabulous.
Related: The Jets ‘2019 Heritage Classic Jersey Is A Gorgeous’ 70s Comeback
First unveiled for the 2019 Heritage Classic in Regina, the uniform looked even better during indoor games than at Mosaic Field under the lights. Inspired by the uniform of the Jets’s World Hockey Association era, the Heritage Blues are gorgeous, with striking red and white stripes on the sleeves and socks and red pants that provide a great contrast to the body of the dark blue jersey. .
It’s a massive upgrade from their previous third jersey: the painfully simple and deeply disappointing Aviator design, which has been stowed where it belongs and very few will miss it.
Not only did the Jets look good with them, but they played well there, capturing seven of eight possible points against the Blues, Sharks, Kings and Oilers. They will wear the Heritage Blues 10 more times this season.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a Diploma in Creative Communications with a Major in Journalism from Red River College and a BA in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the first Jets left town at the age of two and version 2.0 appeared at the age of 17.