After losing a game they deserved to win against the Capitals on Tuesday, the Jets were a picture of inconsistency against the Nashville Predators Thursday night. It seemed like every time a Jets player did something right, they’d make an ill-timed mistake soon afterwards.
The game started in the Jets’ favour. Every line had a great, fast-paced first shift (with the exception of the Jokinen line, who only had a pretty okay one). Shortly before the midway point of the first, the Jets had outshot the Preds 7-1. The first powerplay, utilizing the Centre-Post Umbrella formation (as explained by our own Kevin McCartney earlier today), looked dangerous throwing four shots towards the net. The Jets were able to use their speed to escape Nashville’s suffocating neutral zone pressure.
And then the Predators scored on the powerplay and everything started to fall apart. The Jets got caught up-ice after Wright and Kane were stopped on a shorthanded two-on-one, allowing Weber to rifle a shot over Pavelec’s shoulder from twenty-four feet out. Early standouts began to make mistakes. Byfuglien’s effective physical play was leveled out by giveaways and a few misreads at the Predators’ blueline. Little and Ladd’s initial spark eventually faded until both were invisible. The first frame ended with the Preds outshooting the Jets 10-9.
Keeping with the theme of inconsistency, the Jets’ least dangerous looking line scored the goal of the night in the second period. Peluso, Jokinen, and Frolik played tic-tac-toe entering the offensive zone, ending with Peluso showing some quick hands on a wrap-around to score his first NHL goal. This was one of the only bright spots of the period, however, with the Predators driving the majority of the play.
The Jets were quickly behind in the third, as a bad rebound by Pavelec on a Mike Fisher shot allowed Patric Hornqvist to score. The game seemed to lay dormant until the final ten minutes when the Jets realized time was running out. Ladd and Little re-emerged during a 4v4 situation, starting some momentum. With three minutes remaining, Wheeler – who had wheels all game – willed a goal into existence by crashing the Predators zone, dishing off to Bogosian for a shot, and burying the rebound.
And then the Jets couldn’t get a shot on goal during a fortuitous powerplay opportunity with 2:47 left in the period. This of course led to overtime, where Byfugilen mishandled the puck and Colin Wilson won it for the Preds. An inability to maintain any sort of momentum spelled the end of the Jets in a game they didn’t really deserve to win against a division rival.
But at least they got a point, right?
Blake Wheeler looked darn good for most of the game. The winger’s speed was on full display, creating the tying goal and other dangerous chances throughout the game.
Dustin Byfuglien’s physical play tonight was outstanding. He killed Smith in the first period as the Predator tried to speed by him in the neutral zone. He killed Smith again in the second when the Predator spin-o-rama’d into the slot and got a shot off. Byfuglien played with a bee in his bonnet all night. When he used his size, Byfuglien was effective.
The Jets’ breakout was the most complete part of their game. They took advantage of the Predators’ tendency to clog up the strong side corner on the forecheck by getting the puck to a strategically placed defenceman in the weak side corner.
The Jets’ face-off percentage was 34%. Yup.
While he didn’t register any giveaways, Kane threw the puck away too many times in the offensive zone by throwing blind passes through the Nashville slot. Nashville collapses in their zone far too tight and no chances came of a single pass.
Pavelec struggled with his angles all night, making awkward saves that led to a lot of rebounds. Against a team with more scoring prowess than the Predators (so, anybody), Pavelec would have given up more than two goals tonight.
Scheifele continued to look like he still isn’t ready for the NHL, going 33% for face-offs and finishing at -1. Kane seemed to find more success on the few shifts he took with Wright, and that’s not good.
BEST PLAY BY PLAY QUOTE
"Over the glove, blocker-side." – The Jets’ color guy describing Weber’s goal