The Jets’ winning streak ended in St Paul despite an effortful 40 minutes and 60 minutes of heroism from Ondrej Pavelec. Many of the Jets more common mistakes were on display in the game – a blanked powerplay, turnovers, and a miserable night on faceoffs.
It will be hard to talk about this game without blaming it on faceoffs. A late third period loss by Scheifele led to the Wild’s second and winning goal, and the team as a whole managed just 19 wins on 52 attempts.
While faceoffs contributed to the problem, a first period with two shots, a number of 5-alarm chances against through 40 minutes, and a lack of control in zone entry meant the Jets were lucky to be down 1-0 entering the third.
There was plenty of good in the game. Ondrej Pavelec put on a very strong performance, stopping 22 of 24 shots and a number of high quality chances. He tracked the puck well, and bailed his team out on a few bouncing pucks.
In the second and third period, the Jets out shot the Wild 20-15, and including missed shots, led 28-24. It was on the back of some excellent in-zone play for the Jets offence. Effortful, physical, desperate play gave the Jets some life.
Blake Wheeler had a terrific game, including 8 shots and a few scoring chances. He was on for 17 shot attempts for at even strength, and just 11 against – the best in the Jets’ top-9.
James Wright had a good game! He was active, physical, and was on for more shot attempts for than against. Impressive.
Zach Redmond wasn’t spectacular, and showed some heavy feet at times. Still, for just his 3rd game of the season and first NHL appearance in nine months, I thought he did well. I think we might see him and Ellerby switch places in the lineup against Calgary.
Against a very good Wild team, the Jets were able to generate much more at even strength than they did in game 4.
There was also plenty of bad…
Yeo matched the Brodziak third line against the LLW line about half the game, and despite an easier matchup than usual, Ladd and Little were both below the 50% mark in corsi. They did manage a goal together – a tip-in by Byfgulien. They generated a fair amount, but they also gave up a ton when against the Wild’s top line. The Jets needed this line to be the answer to Zach Parise. Alternatively, In a rare matchup against a checking line, the LLW line needed to give the shallow Jets a little more.
Speaking of a lack of depth, I commented that the team rarely had both their second and third lines going at the same time. Tonight, neither were going particularly well.
Mark Scheifele sure had a tough game. He was visible, sometimes for good. He managed a couple shots, went 40% in the faceoff circle, and showed some speed. But he was also burned more than a few times in the defensive end, and posterized on the winning goal against. Perhaps worse, the Jets struggled to get shots through to the net with Scheifele on the ice. His Fenwick number (missed shots + shots on net) is very poor, just 6 for, 12 against, and Frolik was worse at 4 for, 12 against.
Olli Jokinen had a similar problem. He was a positive corsi player, but was on the ice for 2 shots for, and 6 against. He, too, was posterized on a goal. He was the one who floated around until his check (Koivu) got the puck in the space he’s supposed to defend (the slot), and Jokinen could be seen laying on his side in a futile save attempt when the puck goes in.
Keaton Ellerby got exposed a little. He played over 20 minutes – a significant jump from his usual 14 on the team – and was on for both goals against.
Low quality shot attempts are not easy to get against the Wild, and the Jets had plenty of them. That’s a sign of improvement over October. But high quality attempts require tremendous skill and organization to get against this club, and the Jets failed in that task.
A game against Calgary should be a good chance for Montoya to get a start, and for the club to express their long-term mind set. A desperate coach would put a hot Pavelec in, but Pavelec’s season went off the rails the last time the team expressed that short-term planning. We can hope the Jets can collect two more points tomorrow night before facing Chicago and Minnesota to end the week.