October 01 2013 11:51PM
It was a game of individual efforts tonight, and no individual efforts were more obvious or more lacking than that of the goaltenders. The first goal of the game - a soft backhand by a waiver-wire 4th liner - was the beginning of a seemingly endless series of missed reads, under-glove holes, lost pucks, and lost angles.
Scheifele's heavy wrister from the off-wing found a tiny hole when Dubnyk lost his angle. A very poor gapping play by Nick Schultz gave Bryan Little the room to fumble the puck, get it back, and then put one through a too-deep Oilers netminder. Scoring in the first ended on a tipped powerplay goal and it started to feel like whoever could close the door first would win.
Shocking every person to have watched Ondrej Pavelec to that point in the game, the Jets' 'big-game goalie' had 3 big saves - enough to hold off the pressing Oiler stars.
We started out with no retort to the clever Edmonton baiting.
Pavelec is a nice tribute to Winnipeg's 15 years of AHL hockey.— mc79hockey (@mc79hockey) October 2, 2013
After a Hemsky scored a nonchalant, walk-about wrister and Joensuu batted in one of the many rebounds spilling forth from the generous pads of the glove-hand wonder, it seemed the Jets were in for a long night.
Wondered if tonight would be a bad night to offer Ondrej Pavelec a contract extension. #whatdidchevydotoday— Ryan Blight (@arby_18) October 2, 2013
Oh, Ryan. Never change.
In fact, the story to that point had been the Oilers dominating the shot clock and scoring chances, led by the Oilers' third line of Gordon/Joensuu/Yakupov. At the time of the Oilers 4th goal, they led the shot count 21 to 13. Data analysts might say 'score effects took hold' as the Jets began to surge in the shot attempt count. But we know it was pure heart and will and other intangibles that no team could ever repeat.
The Jets exited the second down just one goal thanks to a Frolik no-look, turn-around wrister that Dubnyk never followed, and down in shots just 24-22.
The Oilers used massive, long passes to stretch out the Jets defenders and prevent any meaningful trap or swarm play in the neutral zone (or offensive zone, for that matter), and it was mid-way through the third when Hall made one without looking and Hockey Jesus jumped it. Then he gaveth unto us... a knuckle slapper that somehow went in (thanks, Christopher Lloyd!).
Frolik's second was a game-winning tap-in on a ridiculous no-look pass by should-have-been linemate Eric Tangradi. Huzzah! Hyphens for everyone!
The Oilers came in with just one centre who had ever played a game as a centre in the NHL. They got poor goaltending, and made some mistakes in their new system. This is one of those wins a team absolutely must collect, and they did it. How they did it was a little less pretty.
Trouba had a solid game, though at risk of sounding like a wet blanket, he did well in a very individualistic game. That suits him. He got his partner injured when he threw a blind pass that Bogo had to chase to the boards. His goal was a heads-down shot. He made some odd choices. But overall, a very good game.
The best news the Jets had was that Mark Schiefele put in two periods of excellent hockey and one period of quiet, solid effort. He made some mistakes, ate the dasher a couple times, but scored on a nice wrister and made his line better with calm transitions and solid play below the Oiler goal line.
To some extent, the Jets had their worst fears confirmed. This team has made serious improvements and has three glaring holes that various members of the team executive refuse to fix. James Wright was down right awful. Frolik was exceptional, Jokinen had his moments, and James Wright was the last player on every back check after being the place the puck died almost every shift.
As well, though Pavelec came up huge in the dying minutes, he really struggled through the first period and could be reasonably expected to have escaped that game with 2 goals against. His rebounds remain an issue, and though he moves well, he doesn't track the puck well so he's often moving to somewhere he doesn't need to be. Or worse, away from somewhere does need to be.
Finally, the third defence pairing was drawn into no-man's land over and over, while the Oilers used the zone horizontally to put them behind and out of the play. When forwards supported, the Oilers used layers to take advantage. Mark Stuart was very visible tonight, and it wasn't for his careful control of Oiler forward movements. (It was because he was awful. I worry about being subtle sometimes).
Best Play by Play Quote
"Pavelec is holding his team in a one-goal game, here in the third"
It was 5-4. Four goals already went past him. You see, goals count the same in the first as in... oh, nevermind. You're kinda right.