The Jets and Wild played the second of the two preseason contests they will have with each other this year, and the Jets once again come out on the losing end of a pretty close game that honestly could have gone the other way if not for a break or two.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the game and the preseason thus far in the comments below, for now, let’s get to three takeaways from last night’s game…
1 – All Things Considered.. Not bad!
The Jets iced a team made up of guys trying to earn spots on the bottom six group of forwards, defensemen who will likely make up the core of the Manitoba Moose (Jacob Trouba excluded) and started their back up goaltender. The Wild put out a bit of a stronger lineup (minus scoring leaders like Granlund and Koivu), but the Jets managed to hold their own. At no point in the game were they grossly outplayed for any length of time. They didn’t dominate in any particular way either, but no one expected this group to do that.
It’s ok to be disappointed in the shutout loss, acknowledge there were some areas the Jets could have been much better in (mainly on the offensive side of things with zone entries as well as their work on the power play) but sill be generally happy with how this group played.
2 – Hellebuyck Strong Again
Connor Hellebuyck had his second straight solid start in this game. Again he wasn’t challenged with anything too difficult outside of the 5 on 3 Wild power play he faced right at the end of the game, but he was good in keeping his position, he seemed to react to puck movement a little bit quicker than he had last year and maybe the biggest sign of encouragement is that he doesn’t over-play the position.
Last year there were multiple times when making an initial save, he would end up out of position on any second chance opportunities that an opposing team would generate. So far in this preseason we’ve seen a return of the “big and boring” Hellebuyck from a few years ago where he would seldom get caught not square to a shooter or the puck.
3 – Preseason isn’t important, except for when it is.
Many will look at an 0-3 start for preseason hockey and dismiss it as “unimportant” which is true, in the grand scheme of things “winning” in the preseason doesn’t mean anything and neither does losing games for that matter.
But, when the head coach comes out before the games start and states that the team needs to “hit the ground running” and that they can’t ease into the exhibition schedule, you have to know that the coaches and in turn players have put at least some level of importance onto it.
The Jets first two games featured them going with a lineup of over 50% regulars – the guys you’re going to see in the lineup come October 4th – and suffered two losses (granted one in a shootout) against teams that put lesser quality rosters against them. Thursday night the tables were turned and the Jets still lost, but managed to look ok in that loss.
It’s hypocritical to look at a loss like they had against the Wild on Thursday night and chalk the overall experience as a positive based on the rosters that played, but outright dismiss what happened this past Monday and Wednesday as “meaningless preseason hockey” .. It either all has some level of importance, or none at all and since the head coach of this team stated it did have some importance, starting out 0 and 3 has to be at least a little concerning.