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Photo Credit: © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Hellebuyck is Actually Human

The Winnipeg Jets barely fell short in a spirited second game against the Nashville Predators. The game began with a Nashville goal just 27 seconds in which got the crowd involved from the start. After the first goal was scored, things seemed to settle in as both teams took a few penalties and scored multiple goals. The Jets certainly played better in game two as they carried the play for much of the game and mustered 50 shots on goal.

Unfortunately, even while out shooting Nashville, Winnipeg found themselves down a goal in the dying seconds. In dramatic fashion, Mark Scheifele knocked a one-timer past Rinne to send the game to overtime. Even though the Jets ended up losing in double overtime, there were plenty of positives that stemmed from their performance.

Here is the Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down for game 2.

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Thumbs up to the individual battles between players. One of the best parts the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the rivalries that form between individuals on the ice. In the third period and overtime, the same four lines from both teams were continually matching up. When playing against the same players repeatedly for a number of games in a row, battles continue from shift to shift and game to game. One great battle during game 2 was Scheifele versus Subban. These two battled throughout the game on every single shift. There were extra hits behind the play, good hits against one another and a sense of nastiness that can only be replicated in the playoffs.

 

Thumbs down to the amount of penalties taken during the game. While the Winnipeg Jets have been near the top of the league on the PK this season, it is a dangerous game to keep giving Nashville opportunities. A penalty taken to negate a scoring chance is seen as acceptable, but the penalties taken during game 2 were in the offensive end. Wheeler’s penalty was a needless trip while the Jets were on the PP. Hendricks had two bad penalties but his second penalty was not only in the offensive end, but it also wiped a goal off the board.

 

Thumbs up to the Jets hustling on the forecheck. During game number 1 the Winnipeg Jets failed to establish any sort of forecheck as they allowed the Predators to continually exit the zone and rush through neutral ice. This game was much better because of the active sticks and quick skating. Rather than allowing the Predators to leave the zone, the Jets stayed strong at the blueline and forced some turnovers. Both Wheeler and Laine had great steals on the forecheck which led to a few scoring chances.

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Thumbs down to goals getting waved off. During the Boston/Tampa Bay game on Saturday afternoon, there was an interesting play where Marchand scored a goal that was immediately waved off. This goal was waved off because there was a penalty behind the play that triggered the whistle as Marchand one-timed the puck in the net. Oddly enough, this exact same situation happened to the Winnipeg Jets. While the game was tied 2-2, the Jets thought they scored the go-ahead goal as Copp shuffled in a rebound. The goal was immediately waved off because Hendricks took an interference penalty as he was crashing to the net. Not only did the goal not count, but the Jets had to kill the penalty on top of it. During the intermission Copp labelled the play a ‘double whammy’. This  situation was a rough turn of events that definitely changed the momentum during the second period.

 

Thumbs up to Mark Scheifele. Scheifele has grown into a bonafide superstar. Not only is he one of the best players on the Jets but he is truly one of the best players in the entire NHL. Scheifele was great all game as he set up the first goal by making a great play along the blueline to keep the puck in. Scheifele then scored a power play goal to gain a 2-1 lead. While these plays were great, they do not compare to the importance of his final goal of the game. With the Jets searching for a tying goal in the dying seconds, who else would score the goal other than Mark Scheifele? Not only is Scheifele playing his best hockey in the playoffs, but he is playing his best hockey when the Jets need it the most.

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Thumbs down to the goalies. It is confirmed that Connor Hellebuyck is in fact a human being and not a robot designed to stop a little hunk of rubber. Neither goalie was playing their best as Rinne let in a couple rough goals at the beginning and Hellebuyck was scrambling around the crease throughout the night. Game three will be interesting as both netminders seem to have lost some confidence. They do not look fundamentally sound or positioned in the net, and the feeling by both sides is that any shot could end up in the back of the net.

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Lastly, thumbs up to Brandon Tanev. For a player who has virtually no history of scoring, he has definitely surprised most fans in the playoffs. Tanev scored a goal in the third period, but he was playing really well during the rest of the game. He forechecks really hard and creates a lot of havoc behind the Nashville net. Tanev is also very fast to join the rush while not sacrificing his defensive role on the team. It was a good outing for Tanev as he played important minutes in a shutdown role against Nashville’s top line, while also adding a goal in the third period.