That’s not a bad way to start the road trip.
The Winnipeg Jets played a fairly even if not overly eventful first two periods in Florida against the Panthers and really were the better team through most of it which finally paid off in a very strong third period where the Jets took a 1-1 game and broke it wide open with three goals.
Almost unfortunately, the Panthers did score late in the third period with their goalie pulled to make it a one goal difference as the final horn sounded. I say unfortunately because days or weeks from now this game is going to count in that “Jets play in really close one-goal games all the time” talk (which by the way the Jets are 8-1-1 in one goal games this season) and this really wasn’t one of those games. The Jets were the better team for most of it and if anything, their lack of aggressiveness in getting the puck to the net (though it was better in this game than it has been) flattered the Panthers on the shots clock (37-30 for Florida).
Patrik The Playmaker
Patrik Laine now has 14 assists this season after a three assist night in Sunrise. The first one was a result of some nice give and go play with Mark Scheifele before Mark dished a very nice pass over to Josh Morrissey, but the other two assists were of the primary kind and they were the kind of passes that very few NHL’ers can make. The pass that set up Nikolaj Ehlers was an awkward looking backhand that Laine looked like he needed to shrink his arms in half to actually complete with a Florida defender to his left, and it was right in the sweet spot where Ehlers could one-time it. The second primary assist on the Scheifele goal was a one-time back handed pass off of a Sergei Bobrovsky rebound right to the stick of Scheifele with very little adjustment needed from Mark to take the shot.
It’s not like this is anything new for Patrik. Over his first three NHL seasons he has 74 assists. We should all be used to this by now, but it’s just that his shooting ability is all-world level and gets the headlines, so when he has nights like he did last night it still feels a bit odd.
That said, he’s having more nights like he did last night more often this season. It’s his third multi-assist game of the season – two of those being three assist games. He had two multi-assist games all of last season and up until this season he never had a three assist game to his credit.
Sluggish Start On Both Sides
The Jets only managed four shots in the first period and two of those four didn’t happen until this last minute of play in the first period. With that kind of number and if you hadn’t watched the game last night you would have maybe assumed that they were badly outplayed in the first, but that really wasn’t the case. Winnipeg actually had 14 shot attempts while Florida had 12. Even strength scoring chances (which don’t always have to be actual shots that make it to the net, just plays in the offensive zone that could have had a chance to score) was also in favor of Winnipeg 6-4, although Florida did have the one lone high-danger scoring chance in the period.
Depending what school of thought you have for road games, it was either a pretty good road period for Winnipeg, or just a so-so effort from both sides, but it wasn’t too bad for the Jets. The four actual shots on goal just made it feel like a bad start.
In his fifth start of the season, last night was the first “quality start” for Laurent Brossoit with a save percentage of .919 against the Panthers.
(Brief explanation for those unfamiliar: A “quality start” for a goaltender is defined as a goalie having a save percentage in a game greater than his save percentage for the season, or is over a .855 save percentage in games where a goalie faces less than 20 shots in a game.)
Not that “quality starts” are a be-all-end-all stat to go off of, I’d argue his games against New Jersey and Vegas were also pretty good efforts that while not perfect, at least gave his team a chance to win which is what you want out of your backup goalie.
The goals that did happen against them I’ve watched a few times over and I don’t know if there is a case where it can be argued he needed to be better. The first goal against him came on the Panthers power play and he had to deal with a couple of Florida players standing nearly on top of him. The second goal against came after an egregious turnover by Kyle Connor that gave the Panthers an odd man scoring opportunity around the Winnipeg net that Brossoit actually stopped the first two shots on before getting beat on the third rebound. The third goal late in the game came with the Jets going into a prevent defense and a shot being deflected about ten feet away from the Winnipeg goal.
He was especially good in the third period once Winnipeg had gotten up by two goals and Florida really started to press. He earned his “quality start” nod last night and hopefully has earned a little more trust from Paul Maurice who should be using him a little bit more – especially with so many games on the road coming up.
At Even Strength, Jets Were Better
Two of the three Florida goals came with a man advantage. The first of course on the power play, the third goal was scored after the Panthers had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker shortly after the Jets had made it a 4-2 game with about three minutes left
When the game was played at 5 on 5 though, Winnipeg was the far better club on the ice. Expected goals (xGF) in even strength situations finished in favor of Winnipeg 2.64 to Florida’s 1.49 – There haven’t been too many games this season where Winnipeg has come out ahead in that department.
The penalty kill as well as how they defend when there is an extra attacker are still concerns, but thankfully the Jets have remained relatively disciplined to help with the former and maybe they just haven’t had enough experience yet in closing out late period leads to properly deal with the latter.