Scheifele on his head, still gets the puck
In the Jets’ home-opener, it was safe to regard them as the underdogs. Sure, the Kings were on the second half of an early-season back-to-back, but led the NHL in possession hockey one year ago, and won a Stanley Cup with their depth two years ago. Everyone accepted it would be the Jets’ first test of moving West.
In typical Jets fashion, even a win wasn’t a clear passing of that test.
It was another enteraining, high-event affair in which the opposition held the advantage in possession. The Kings out-shot the Jets 36-33 (26-22 at even strength) and out shot-attempted them 67-59. But luck has been with the Jets two games running. On the back of a 15 minute stretch of dominating hockey in which they led shots 17-3 and a few lucky breaks – from Kane’s looping first goal to Frattin breaking his stick in the slot late in the third – the Jets escaped with 2 points.
Amazingly, Pavelec was the better goal tender again this game. US Olypmic Team hopeful Jonathan Quick was pulled from the game after the Jets’ fourth – a Setoguchi wrap around on a sprawling and out-of-sorts Kings squad. Pav managed a .960 even strength save percentage in the game, and made more than a few breath-holders. The only goal against at even strength came off Byfuglien on a Matt Greene shot. Unlikely to say the least.
Still, the Jets’ special teams were an issue, and PK specialist Mark Stuart was on the ice for both powerplay goals against. The Jets did manage an important powerplay marker – a tip by Setoguchi on an awkward shot from Kane through Regehr’s legs to go up 3-1 – but went just 1 for 6 on the night.
Byfuglien led the team in time on ice, and was marked for 5 giveaways as the NHL continues to collect a statistic that might as well be called ‘Confirmation Bias.’ Trouba had the fewest even strength minutes among defenders, but was 3rd among defenders total. He continues to impress with the puck, but he and Bogosian struggled to keep the puck away from their net tonight, combining for the worst 5v5 corsi % when the score was close.
The bottom line – the Jets faced poor goaltending two games in a row and came out with a win in a game in which the score was one of very few measures of success to lean in their favour.
Evander Kane had a remarkable game, recording a Gordie Howe Hat-trick plus an extra goal for good measure (you’re welcome, Fantasy Hockey). He also led the game with 8 shots on and 12 attempts at the net. Outrageous. In fact, the Jets’ second line was the reason they won this game, combining for 3 goals and 7 points.
Olli Jokinen sure looked excited, recording a couple points in under 14 minutes of play and getting engaged physically as the game wore on. He and Frolik managed a positive corsi % against a very good Kings group. When Kane was double-shifted on that line, it was effective at generating scoring chances.
The top pairing of Buff and Enstrom had a less dominating performance by corsi-measures, but mostly due to the score effects in the third. When the score was close, they were still the Jets’ best defenders. They also put a ton of rubber toward the net.
It’s weird to say, but Pavelec was among the good again tonight, despite continuing his scrambling style and generous rebounds.
The Jets won a second game in spite of their top line. Wheeler logged just over 11 even strength minutes, and the LLW line were a dismal 20% in EV corsi events – 4 out of 5 shot attempts went against the Jets while they were on the ice. If an 80% majority is enough for the American Dental Association, it’s enough to say this line got dominated.
They also had almost 5 minutes of powerplay time with nothing to show for it.
The first period closed with the Kings holding an 18-7 shot advantage, and 20-7 Fenwich advantage. The story of the period was control over the neutral zone for the Kings, and unforced turnovers for Wheeler (who had four to my eye in that period alone). He’s clearly not at 100%.
It’s hard to mention Wheeler and Wright in the same section, but despite a demotion to just 9 minutes of even strength ice time, James Wright continued to bleed chances against. He, Slater, and Thorburn were a frightening combo that spent most of its time in the Jets’ zone. Depth is the key to winning in the West. Noel took a step toward isolating the team’s problems at forward, but can’t afford to spend 8 to 10 minutes a game hemmed in their own zone and expect to win many more one-goal games.
Finally, the third pairing for the Jets turned in a much better performance, and earned their increased EV minutes against the Kings. But Mark Stuart was burned for two powerplay goals against. The team relies on him as a tough minutes, gritty defender, but his puck play, awareness, and positional discipline are problems already. Though a veteran on the club, he may be the one to come out when Clitsome returns from injury.
Best Play-By-Play Quote
I was watching the Kings feed tonight due to technical difficulties. Early in the game, the Kings announcing crew did a bit on the MTS Centre.
"And it gets so loud in here because of the acoustics," explained shameless Matthew Perry fan Jim Fox.