Jets Post-Game 20: Three in a Row

The Jets have won three in a row for the first time this season. It certainly wasn’t the convinving play we saw against Detroit 8 days ago, but a 4-2-0 record in the challenging early November schedule is worth celebrating.

Much of the game was played in the Jets’ end, special teams continued to be a problem, and an acceptable first period slipped into a disasterous third. But on the back of Ondrej Pavelec’s 41 saves, Bogosian’s 1st goal of the year, and the shootout, the Jets have left the basement of the Central Division!

That slide to a disasterous third period can’t be over stated. In the first period, Detroit out shot the Jets 16-8 (11-7 at EV), in the third that difference was 16-2 (12-1 at EV).

The difference was purely structural. TSN colour analyst Mike Johnson noted that the Jets’ "Key to the Game" was controlling the middle of the ice. I said roughly the same in the my pre-game, noting that they controlled Detroit in game one by limiting their lateral passing. Period one, the Jets did that extremely well in the neutral zone. F3 stayed high, they created back pressure, which let their defence close their gaps, and bingo! The middle of the ice is challenged.

Not only did that fall apart in the third period, but other aspects of their structural game as well. In the second intermission, Craig Button praised the Jets’ breakout, noting the same tight formation we saw in game one against the Red Wings. Perhaps he jinxed it, as the Jets immediately stopped doing that. Puck supporters played flat footed, making them easy to isolate, so no passes to the middle were possible. If the Jets were entering the Detroit zone at all, it was on ladder-passes up a single board, leaving just a single attacker against two defencemen. Useless. 

Together, it meant constant turnovers just inside their own blue line, and a total inability to possess in the Detroit zone. 16-2 shots was flattering.

Ondrej Pavelec only had to make a handful of really remarkable saves, but he made them. He also made a truck load of less remarkable saves, and was beaten exclusively on lateral plays to Datsyuk on the PP. For a goalie who is known for some soft goals, it was a welcomed change. His save percentage rose to .913 on the season, and .924 at even strength, according to Robert Cleave.

The Good

Outside of Pavelec, there wasn’t a ton of it. The Jets first goal came on a slick pass from Wheeler and a fine spacial adjustment and one-timer from top scorer Bryan Little. Just prior to the goal was that same tight, puck supporting breakout I refuse to stop talking about lately. That line had a strong 1st period, and remained the only effective line all night.

In a game where the team had below 40% of the shot attempts in the game, Andrew Ladd was on the ice for 12 Jets shot attempts and just 7 Red Wings shot attempts. For corsi % enthusiasts, that’s 10% better than second place Devin Setoguchi.

Speaking of Setoguchi, he had a strong game. The only fault anyone could find is that he wouldn’t shoot when he found space. But he found space! And that’s better than most Jets. He also scored in the shootout and had a very good game defensively. He’s coming into his own, but isn’t selfish enough yet. It’s an easy video lesson for him tomorrow, considering the looks he gave up. We should see swift improvement.

Another good was the shootout, where Pavelec looks a little more confident this season, and Andrew Ladd is on a tear. Five in a row this year, 7 in a row dating back to last. They have a lot of options in that skills competition – Ladd, Seto, Kane, Little, Wheeler, Bygfulien, Enstrom, Frolik, Schefiele, and even Olli Jokinen is quite good. It speaks to how much talent this team has, and how close they really are to being competitive.

The Bad

So, so much. First, let’s be clear that Bogosian’s goal was the only even strength shot for the Jets in the third period. Howard wildly misplayed it, perhaps owing to seeing just one shot prior.

Continuing with Bogosian, he was a 35% corsi player with the biggest zone start advantage given to any defencemen while playing primarily against the Red Wings’ second line. That’s miserable for a highly paid player. He also made some serious mistakes, adding to a frustrating season so far for the young blue liner.

He wasn’t the worst Jet. In roughly 7 minutes of even strength ice time, the Jets’ fourth line was a momentum killer again on the night. Every time they went on, the puck zipped into the Jets’ zone and stayed there for 40 or so seconds. That line was on for exactly zero shots on net for (2 attempts), and eight shots against that Pavelec had to save . That’s more than a shot per minute against. Outrageously bad.

Sadly, they weren’t the only line that was outplayed. Frolik and Halischuk managed to be on the ice for 2 even strength shots (and a whopping 4 attempts!) and nine shots against! That’s included in the 16 shot attempts they allowed against in roughly 13 minutes of ice. Scheifele was slightly better, owing to some line blendering.

Scheifele showed some speed early, but disappeared after taking a hooking penalty in period one. He was just 29% in the faceoff circle too. He’s young, but I’d like to see a pulse after making a mistake.

Evander Kane was also a bit invisible, given what we’ve come to expect. Oly Backstrom was vocal about it on twitter:

The Jets’ fast-break offence was designed with Kane in mind – to utilize his speed and powerful frame to break containment against the Jets by forcing defencemen back. With the latest strategic adjustment to a better supported, tighter breakout, Kane is no long facing one-on-one’s with speed, he’s facing 3-on-3’s and being expected to create sustained rather than transitional offence. He’s a terrific player with incredible physical skills, but sometimes we forget that he’s very young. He hasn’t been expected to play a lot of different roles, and I think he’s simply struggling to adjust. He made some strong plays in the Detroit zone, and got an assist on the Bogo goal in his only fast-break opportunity of the night. There’s no reason to panic. But he might not stand out as much as we’re used to going forward.

And he’ll need to adjust his defensive zone play to be more conservative.

Best Play by Play Quote

"You don’t want any part of being Kronwall’ed."

You are correct, Mike Johnson. I do not.