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I wish there were some positives to take from Thursday night’s Winnipeg Jets game but there aren’t. So avert your eyes if you’re looking for sunshine and rainbows from a “day after” takeaways post. Even that second period as you’ll soon see wasn’t as good – at least in my opinion – as one would think.

I mentioned it a while ago on another post that good teams lose to bad teams all the time and that we shouldn’t overreact to those losses. To counter that though, the one argument I would make is that good teams don’t lose constantly to bad teams like the Jets seemingly do. Chicago. Detroit. Los Angeles. Teams playing below .500 hockey that the Jets have all lost to over the last few weeks. Thankfully they at least beat Anaheim, so it’s not a clean sweep for sub-par teams against the Jets, but it’s alarming how the Jets “play down” to the level of their opponents.

 

They started slow.

Same old story for this team, the Jets get dominated in the first period, or in this case the first half of the first period and it once again led to them having to play from behind almost instantly. It’s kind of remarkable actually how the Jets simply never seem to appear ready to start a game. Even in the game against the Flyers, the Jets were brutal in the first period having given up seven high danger scoring chances. Thursday night the Jets only gave up three to start the game, but it was one more than they had earned themselves.

Even more aggravating is that they looked as bad as they did to start again against a team that had played the night before in Chicago against the Avalanche. People were hard pressed to figure out which team was the one coming off a game 24 hours ago and which team was the one that hand been hanging around in the same city for the last five days and had a light practice the day before.

 

They ended badly.

If nothing else this season, we’ve at least been able to rely on the fact that the Jets have never seemed to be truly out of any game and that like a T-1000 will just keep on moving forward at it’s same slow, methodical pace and eventually overtake you. Sure they start slow, sure they fall behind pretty much every game, but gosh darn it the Jets always find a way back.

Except for last night. Last night… Dare I say, they just seemed to give up?

The Hawks second goal, 37 seconds into the third period was an absolute killer, especially given what the Jets had done in the second period (more on that in a moment). Patrick Kane not only stole the puck from a very lackadaisical Mark Scheifele, but he seemed to steal the Jets desire to win, passed it to Dominik Kubalik and let him skate in alone to thrust a dagger into the hearts of Winnipeg via Connor Hellebuyck’s five-hole.

The Hawks out-shot the Jets 17-7 in the third period. They out-chanced them 9-6 in even strength play and had five high danger scoring chances while not allowing the Jets to have any.

Again, I feel like it’s worth noting that this was the Blackhawks second game in as many nights and they closed out the game as if they were the ones at home, presumably more rested and with the more favorable schedule.

 

The in-between was good, but not as good as you thought.

Ahh yes, the second period. Most people are looking back at the game and pointing to the second period where the Jets had all kinds of chances to score and gosh darn it Robin Lehner stood on his head.

There is some truth to that, but not as much as you probably think.

The Jets out-shot the Hawks 14-3 in that period. In fact the Blackhawks went almost 13 full minutes before picking up their first shot on goal in the middle frame. Yes, Lenher made some outstanding stops, but he wasn’t tested as much as he could have been because again the Jets settle for shots from distance with little traffic in front of the net – a fact at least acknowledged by Nikolaj Ehlers in the postgame. Rebound opportunities and second chances off of initial shots are nearly non-existent for this team. I only have the heat map for the entire game, but it kind of tells the tale since the second period was were pretty much all of the Jets action happened anyway since they were quiet in the first and third periods:

Courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Nothing in front of the Hawks net. A clean space of white, void of any indication of hockey life directly in front of Robin Lehner. Any glowing spots of action for the Jets are above the circles and closer to the blue-line than the goal-line.

So yes they did play well in the second period, but it could have been even better. Don’t let Lehner being somewhat decent at his job for one period distract you from that.

 

The penalty kill is a disaster… still.

I remember getting ripped by more than a few fans back in November when I suggested that the Jets penalty kill was still not good at all. I was told I was being overly negative and that their penalty kill woes in October where they managed just a 65.4% kill success rate (17 of 26) was behind them. November was much better with a 83.3% kill rate (30 of 36) and half of the six power play goals they gave up in November were in one bad game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, so really I was very wrong and that the PK was fixed!

I am sad to report that the Jets are back on their penalty kill bullshit.

The Jets have now gone four straight games giving up a power play goal. In those last four games they’ve been short handed nine times and have given up an astonishing six goals. The Jets PK in December is back down to 65.2% (15 of 23)

The reason it seemed better in November was because of Connor Hellebuyck. It was never really “fixed” or performing that much better, it was just getting lucky with some fantastic goaltending. Sadly I don’t see where the Jets will get better on the PK unless Hellebuyck resumes his stellar play – which is very possible.