If you got stuck in traffic on the way home from work, then maybe had to play with the cat a little bit because he’s been inside alone all day and is a bit ansty, then quickly made yourself a couple pizza pops before turning on the Jets game and only managed to catch the third period, you watched a really exciting game.
If you saw the whole thing, well…at least they won.
It wasn’t that the game lacked scoring chances or exciting plays, but it was typical of two borderline AHL-calibre squads. Columbus is currently devastated by injuries to Gaborik, Horton, Wisniewski, and Bobrovsky, and Winnipeg has some serious depth issues, so most of the game was spent chasing flubbed passes. The Jets controlled the run of play more overall, but not by much.
Both teams seemed to wake up in the third, trading goals like they were bullets in Oregon Trail. A returning Evander Kane had a massive game, setting up Scheifele for the first goal and scoring the eventual game winner with a heavy wrist shot on a 3-on-1. Back-up Al Montoya had a back-up worthy effort, allowing 2 quick goals in the third period while hanging on for the win. And rookie Jacob Trouba had his first NHL fight, sticking up for teammate Tobias Enstrom after he was leveled by Matt Calvert early in the first period.
Did I mention Evander Kane returned? Noel chose to slot the young winger into recently injured Matt Halischuk’s spot on the third line with Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik. Kane’s return had a tremendous impact on the Jets, giving them an effective third line for the first time since Kyle Wellwood ate there. Frolik played well as per usual, but Kane’s presence made even Scheifele look dangerous. However, the TSN Jets broadcast would have you believe it was the other way around.
Colour Commentator and ex-NHLer Shane Hnidy seemed hesitant to give Kane his due all game. When Kane went down after blocking a shot on the PK, Hnidy implied he stayed down too long if he wasn’t injured. When Kane did most of the work on the play where he set up Scheifele for a virtual tap-in, Hnidy lavished praise on Scheifele, Trouba, and Frolik before mentioning Kane – and then only in passing to say he made a "nice feed". Highlight packages showed what a great game Scheifele was having, as if the linemate swap of Kane for Halischuk was insignificant. Why is it preferable to continually promote one star player over another?
Oh right, my bad. "Colour Commentator". Of course.
As was previously mentioned, Kane’s return was a showstopper. He was the best player on the ice, creating chances and rarely leaving the Blue Jackets zone. Kane led both sides in shots, points, and was third in Corsi to only Frolik and Blue Jacket fourth-liner Blake Comeau.
Michael Frolik continues to be the only forward showing any consistency outside of the first line, though an argument could be made for Setoguchi as well. Frolik looked to switch defensive duties with Scheifele in the Jets zone, engaging in puck battles beneath the goal line and swinging low on the breakout like a centre (presumably a coaching decision made to shelter Scheifele’s poor defense). Frolik is a smart player and paired well with Kane’s speed.
The powerplay. With five PP goals in their last four games, the Jets have pulled themselves out of the league basement and into 25th place overall. Noel mentioned in a pre-game interview that the team has been practicing the powerplay during the morning skate lately and it seems to be paying dividends. The Jets adjusted well to an aggressive Blue Jackets PK and scored when they needed to.
Maybe I’m being nitpicky, but the TSN broadcast bothered me tonight. As I mentioned before, Hnidy and company chose to focus in on Mark Scheifele instead of Evander Kane, as if they were trying to will the rookie to be better than he is. From the television to radio to newspaper, Jets coverage across the board has the wool over their eyes.
Chris Thorburn is still on the second line and is still not good. Thorburn seems to get a lot of chances, but it’s usually because he’s behind the play and it bounces back to him accidently. The only upside to keeping Thorburn on the second line is that if Kane were to take his place, the third line would be devastated.
The fourth line saw barely any icetime, yet still managed to be on for first Blue Jackets goal. It’s embarrassing when your fourth line can’t play against a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets, but so is saving your back-up for the Buffalo Sabres.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"What the hell, dude?"
– Me, when my cat sat on my computer and made me miss the Little goal