The Jets, after a strong start, blew a 3-1 third period lead and lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the shootout…
-You can’t fault Ondrej Pavelec on either of the three regulation goals, but on the tying marker by Phil Kessel, Bryan Little who was supposed to control Dion Phaneuf at the left point, fell way out of position because he dropped his stick in the opposite corner. Rather than play without his stick, the young Little went to retrieve it, leaving Mark Stuart to cover both Kessel and Phaneuf, who made a terrific pass, albeit through not much traffic to Kessel who took an excellent shot in a classic scoring position.
-Alexander Burmistrov was not the horse he was against Pittsburgh and he finished with a minus-3 Corsi rating, but his centreman Nik Antropov was very strong playing against his old team. Antropov set up Burmistrov on his first of the season, and the pair worked a very good shift at the end of overtime that earned the team two shots off of five attempts in 40 seconds of play. In the shootout, Burmistrov got unlucky, catching the meshing it looked like on James Reimer’s blocker arm and somehow bounced out.
-I’m still not sure what to make about Mark Scheifele. He scored his first NHL goal against Toronto on a tap-in after a good shot by Dustin Byfuglien and has created a number of chances, but he still looks pretty timid against NHL competition. Kudos to the guy for his first goal, in his home province on national television, but the more I watch this team the more it becomes clear that he should be sent down after 9 games. Let’s not kid ourselves—Winnipeg just isn’t a playoff-ready team yet, and it seems silly to waste a contract year on an 18-year old when the team is building for the future. The differences between 18 and 19 is apparent, as Burmistrov looks way better this season than last.
-Dustin Byfuglien broke out in a big way and was the best player on the ice last night for either team and finally earned his first two points of the season. He had a game-high thirteen shot attempts and was a +9 Corsi in 29:26 of ice-time, with much of that coming against Phil Kessel and Toronto’s first line. That’s an incredible stat-line and we’d seen flashes of what Byfuglien can do on the ice so far this season, but this is the Dustin Byfuglien that needs to show up on most nights (he showed up against Pittsburgh as well) for the Jets to have a chance. He played well, and, of course, the Jets had a chance.
-The Jets used their first line of Andrew Ladd, Little and Wheeler in a defensive role. That unit saw extra defensive zone starts and also played primarily against the Kessel line. They otherwise have way more offensive zone starts, but there was a little change in character from Claude Noel against Toronto, and rather than use a line that has yet to break out offensively in key offensive situations, he kept them in their own end. Oddly enough, no Winnipeg defenseman played the shut-down role to that effect, with their offensive zone starts kept balanced with their defensive ones throughout the game.
-Finally, while the play resulted in a goal against Winnipeg, the view offered by the net-came of Joffrey Lupul’s first of the night is one of the cooler pictures in the NHL so far this season. Lupul just fired it right into the lens and the referee was quick to call the puck “in” while it looked like he had hit the post from the way the puck caromed out of the goal area so fast.