Jets Post-Game 40: Taking What's Available

Kevin McCartney
December 28 2013 05:11AM

The Jets won in convincing fashion against the badly struggling Wild playing the injured and out-of-sorts Nik Backstrom between the pipes. The home team out-hit and out-shot the Wild, and managed to control the flow of play through most of the contest. But a 6-4 score still came down to luck and near misses after Pavelec gave up three goals on the opposition's first six shots. 

In Pav's 7 minutes of ice time, he completely ignored the second player on a two-on-one, drifted out of the net during a scramble play in front of him, and was beaten clean by Stephan Veillieux for his first goal since he scored against the Atlanta Thrashers on February 2, 2010. Nope, that's not a mistake. Of course, Pav was pulled after that miserable start. 

Thankfully, the Jets' scored more run support in the first period than they've managed in their previous two games against the Wild. It started with a Frolik created shorthanded goal, finished by Kane on a slick pass through two Wild players. The second goal was all Sweetoguchi as he delivered an off-rythm backhander from behind the net to Jokinen's tape. Down 3-2, the Jets scored two in the final 5:10 of the period - a Wheeler tip on a Trouba shot through traffic off a Little faceoff win tied the game, and it was Byfuglien to Byfuglien for the Byfuglien net drive to take the lead. 

After one period, the Jets were behind on the shot count, and the good money was on the Wild tightening up and taking control. It certainly felt that way when the WIld scored a nifty powerplay maker that could have been a one-touch passing practice, going from Granlund on the right half boards to Pominville in the high slot to Coyle in the left circle and then back across the zone to the back door for Koivu without being cradled. Four passes to cover the whole zone in literally two ticks of the game clock.

 

The passing lanes were open because of the Jets' 1-3 formation in PK neutral zone play. Most teams who use a 1-3 on the PK put the second forward on the strong side so that both defenders can back into their proper positions in the box. The Jets put the second forward in the centre, and in this case, Byfuglien tried to make a play at the blue line and Wright made a read to take his place rather than going to his spot (where Pominville took the first pass) and letting Pardy deal with the underneath lane. I'm sure tons of people have that one against Byfuglien on the score card, but in fact it was the James Wright option play on yet another unusual Jets' structural quirk.

 

And from that goal on, the Jets took over the contest. At the time of the Wild's 4th and tying goal just 4 minutes into the second frame, the bad guys led shots 15-13. The rest of the way, the Jets' out-shot the Wild 25-14. The Jets also started hitting, and watching the Minnesota feed, you might think it went both ways. Not according to the Jets' home stat crew, who gave the Wild just 9 hits on the game to Winnipeg's 28. 

Still, it was a scramble goal that may well have been blown dead on another night to

It was everying Claude Noel wants from his club. They got on the dump-ins quickly and laid a body on the defender. They fought for space. They created three of their goals in a half-set offence. No doubt the team will write off Pavelec's continued December implosion as turkey related and call it a major victory.

We've been saying from the team's first game against Nashville (when Carter Hutton was in net) that the Jets need to take points from their Divisional opponents when those opponents are injured. The Jets found a struggling team with a league-low offence and now Zach Parise. I think Mike Yeo knows that Josh Harding is the difference in this game, despite his team being badly out played for long stretches. But from the Jets' perspective, it was a must-have two points and they got it. End of story.

Frolik finds a passing lane, and this camera angle makes it look easy

The Good

It was a classic split for the Jets. The LLW line was outstanding, Kane and Frolik were terrific, and Enstrom, Trouba, and Byfuglien were the team's best defenders. 

The LLW line created two goals at even strength, and were involved in a massive 23 shot attempts for. 

Enstrom was perhaps the Jets' MVP with over 27 minutes played, a goal, +4, and on for zero of the Wild's four goals. He played with Trouba on the night and duo was exceptional while playing the top (Koivu) line most often. Trouba was also plus 4, had an assist, and four shots in nearly 25 minutes.

Before the game, Gary Lawless tweeted about comparing Byfuglien to Suter, which shows his hilarious misunderstanding of hockey. Enstrom is the team's Ryan Suter, not Dustin Byfuglien. And while Big Buf had a very anti-Suter-ian game, he did create a lot of offence as usual. His goal was a one timer where he followed his own rebound. He had three shots and drove the play while paired with fequent scratch and waiver addition Keaton Ellerby. 

Amazingly, Kane and Frolik were 60% corsi players at even strength, while their centre was 45%. 

The fourth line had a goal on the night. It was Buf's goal, but hey, it's something. 

The tying goal was that close

The Bad

Julian Melchiori got into his first NHL action, and things didn't go well. I mean, it was better than Ben Chairot's scolding by Chicago. But Noel benched Melchiori, and he played just 96 seconds in the last 24 minutes of the game. But in his 8 minutes of ice time, he was minus one and on for just 2 shot attempts for and 5 against. Not pretty.

The Jets' third line and on-going debacle scored a goal on this evening. But in a game where the Jets had a corsi rating of almost 60% (so rare for the Jets), the Jokinen line ranged from 40% to 45%. The line was also on for a goal against. In the picture above, Jokinen barely stops Koivu from potting the winner. So it could have been worse.

Oh, yeah, and Ondrej Pavelec was horrible. HORRIBLE. The broadcast crew tried to pin in it on the defence, so I switched to the Minnesota feed. Holy man. Pavelec doesn't even read that Heatley is on the back door on goal one. He doesnt fight to stay in position for a scramble in front of him. And then Stephan Veilleux! STEPHAN VEILLEUX! He's now at a career low .902 sv% on the season, and in 10 December games, he has a .863. That's 58th out of 66 netminders to have played a game this month. 

 

It was a much needed win, but it came against a team with two key injuries and a bundle of problems. And it came in spite of the team's chosen starter and presumed goalie of the future, just one game after throwing his team under the bus for their play against the Oilers. This is the second time Montoya has made a case for stealing the starter's job this season. 

Montoya celebrates Enstrom for the empty net goal like a good team mate

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Kevin is the Managing Editor of Jets Nation. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, The Sporting News, and around the Nations Network. An enthusiastic over-analyst, his background and interests are diverse, but you might notice he's obsessed with hockey. Track him down on twitter @kevinmccart or @nhljetsnation
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#1 X
December 29 2013, 11:34AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
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props

Melchiori deserved a better kick at the NHL can, some guys go out and a have a few bad shifts when they start their NHL careers and one would expect that the warm embrace of a Wild team that can't find the back of the net with a geiger counter would be the perfect environment to do just that. Instead he ended up at the wrong end of a goal. In his brief time out there he was not entirely as terrible as the microscopic Corsi sample indicated but the whole situation probably ends up bad for his prospects going forward (though given the depth the Jets have at around his relative talent level he is looking like a long-term IceCapper anyway).

Why is Pavelec so slow? From whence did this terrible reaction time come? Watching him freeze up while he looks at the puck move laterally across the ice makes me wonder if he is suddenly suffering from some undiagnosed cognitive mental impairment. Really, I do not say this in jest, it is troubling. His badness is usually a product of being out of position and making poor choices, from processing his environment wrongly - now it seems to actually be a product of failing to process his environment at all in high-pressure situations.

The Thorburn Improvement Program (TIP) has to end soon, it must. I have decided to dub it TIP because I am forced to assume that Noel must believe that Olli and Seto are intended to make Thorburn better at hockey, the only logic I can assign to its existence is as some kind of training exercise at this point. Fun-fact: A line of 3 career-negative Corsi players playing together achieves negative Corsi differentials with 95% certainty 19 times out of 20.

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