Man, did the Winnipeg Jets ever need that.
Not just the two points in the standings of course which keeps them in the playoff face both within the Central Division but also in the larger Western Conference Wild Card scene where teams in the Pacific are proving to be just as worrisome as Dallas, Nashville and Minnesota.
But the Jets also needed that win at hope to finally get one 30 days after their last win at home back in mid-December. That they did it against a pretty good Canucks team who had been on a bit of a roll going into the game was nice as well.
Here are some other thoughts I came away with after last night’s 4-0 Jets shutout of Vancouver.
Good to be lucky, lucky to be good…
That is to say that you can believe that Connor Hellebuyck was once again brilliant in goal for the Winnipeg Jets in making 41 saves on the night, but also a bit fortunate with all the pucks (at least five by my count) that got past him but found iron and stayed out of the net.
Besides, any good goaltender will tell you that he forced those shots to hit posts. I’d also like to point out that luck usually is a product of good work and I am very thankful last night that TSN’s Ray Ferraro took a moment to point out how Hellebuyck has been calm and effective in the Jets net during a sequence where he made one of those 41 saves.
The puck moves from his right to the left and then back again and even with a little bit of traffic in front of him, Hellebuyck isn’t panicking, his movements are quiet and he’s not over-skating anything and when he does get the shot, he’s at a perfect angle and out just enough at the top of his crease to cut down any possible gaps and demonstrates beautiful rebound control because as Ray put it, Hellebuyck isn’t rigid and stiff. He actually absorbs the shot and then drops down quickly to cover the rebound.
(Also I feel like Anthony Bitetto should get some credit for good boxing out on this play. Carl Dahlstrom struggles a bit with his man but Bitetto properly steers Brock Boeser away from the rebound)
They were out-shot… again. But they won… again.
As we’ve stated on this site before, ‘score effects’ are a thing and by all rights when your the team that is down a goal or two, you should be pressing a lot more for offense while the team that is leading is less likely to take chances and leave themselves open to mistakes and goals against. That’s a thing that happens with all teams, not just the Jets, so seeing Vancouver out-shoot Winnipeg 28-15 over the last two periods is concerning but only mildly so.
While this game won’t do anything for the Jets advanced metrics (which lately have looked really bad) the one area where I feel they really helped themselves is in front of both nets – both theirs and the other team’s.
It’s not outstanding by any stretch, but the defense around Hellebuyck was a lot better than it has been and the Jets did well enough to keep as much offense to the perimeter of their zone as the Canucks did to filter pucks towards the ‘home plate area’ in front of the Winnipeg goal. Conversely, the Jets did a far better job getting to the Canucks net and taking higher percentage shots than they did in their previous game against Nashville.
The numbers in recorded scoring chances at 5 on 5 play also reflect this. The Canucks did have a 19-14 edge in scoring chances overall for the game, but high danger chances were listed at an even 7-7. There are still things to work on and all this could be even better, but for right now this is a good start and it would sure be nice to see the Jets start trending in the direction of at least taking away the front slot area in their defensive end of the ice while attacking the other end.
That said as you’re all aware it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops.
Again, it’s understandable that once the game got to 3 and 4 to 0, that score effects would be a thing… But it doesn’t need to be this bad does it?
One more time with feeling…
The offside review is dumb. It’s maybe the dumbest thing about the NHL and there are a LOT of dumb things about the NHL right now.
From the time the Jets made their initial zone entry that was later ruled offside (and I’d still like to know how they *conclusively* proved that one because nothing that TV or the fans saw could prove beyond any doubt that it was in fact offside) until the time Bitetto’s shot squeaked by Jacob Markstrom’s pads and into the net was a full 17 seconds.
The Jets, if they were offsides were only that by a couple of inches and there were three Vancouver Canucks along the blueline when it happened, so it’s not like they were at any huge disadvantage which is what the offsides rule is supposed to be there for.
Can you find a puck here? Apparently NHL officials can and this is somehow offside.
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) January 15, 2020
Thankfully it didn’t affect the game, although poor Bitetto still sits behind Pekka Rinne in the NHL’s goal scoring race.