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Photo Credit: © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Jets are Central Division Champions

The Winnipeg Jets are Central Division champions and moving on to the conference finals after a tremendous game seven against the Nashville Predators.

It was a nail-biting start for the Jets as they gave Nashville an early opportunity on the power play. Nashville couldn’t find the back of the net which would prove costly just moments later as the Jets scored back to back goals in just over two minutes. Rinne justifiably got pulled after the second goal as both were scored from bad angle shots. It was a great first period for the Jets as they got out in front and didn’t look back. The Jets added to their lead in the second period with a beautiful passing play between Wheeler and Scheifele and took a two goal cushion into the final frame. The Jets played well defensively and finished out the game in style with another goal on the power play and the insurance marker into the empty net. It was a great game by the Jets who deserve plenty of thumbs up after a huge game seven victory.

 

Thumbs up to Mark Scheifele. There isn’t much more that needs to be said about Scheifele. With the Jets thrust into the spotlight, the rest of the hockey world is starting to take notice of just how good he is. Scheifele was the star again in game seven as he scored the goal to put the Jets up by two and give the team a little bit of breathing room. He capped the night off with an empty net goal and now has 11 goals in these playoffs, which gives him the outright lead. 

 

Thumbs up to the first period. The first goal of the game was extremely important. Nashville had stymied the Jets for the last couple games with their neutral zone trap once they had the lead. The Jets needed to score first to ensure Nashville couldn’t go back to their trap and waste time off the clock. The Jets played a great first period and carried most of the play. They were rewarded with a one goal lead and were in a position of power from the very beginning. The Jets were the ones this time who were able to sit back in the third period and clog up the neutral zone as the time wore down.

 

Thumbs down to Pekka Rinne. Game seven was supposed to be a battle of the goaltenders. Many people were predicting a close game with both goalies at their best. Hellebuyck lived up to his end of the bargain but Rinne did not. Rinne was not good in this series as he was pulled from three separate games. In game seven he allowed two goals on only seven shots, and both shots were taken from almost behind the net. They were not good chances to give up as it really took the life out of the building and sent the Jets well on their way towards victory.

 

Thumbs up to Paul Stastny. Stastny has been great during these playoffs, but game seven might have been his best performance. He ended the night with two goals and one assist and was the most impactful player for the Jets. He was constantly around the puck and was causing havoc on the forecheck. This trade continues to look better for Cheveldayoff as the playoffs move on.

 

Thumbs up to the ice time. The Winnipeg Jets evenly distributed their ice time in game seven. No forward had more than 20 minutes of ice time, while no forward had less than 12 minutes. This is a great way to play because the Jets continually rolled out all four lines in all situations. They did not worry about the specific matchups from shift to shift and they just went out and played. The defensemen minutes were also very evenly distributed except for Byfuglien and Chiarot. Byfuglien had over 25 minutes while Chiarot had just over 15 minutes. The rest of the defensemen were in the 18-20 minute range. This means the Jets were able to keep all of their players fresh and it showed in the third period. They did not slow down and were able to defend very well because they were able to rest during the game.

 

Thumbs down to the penalties. The Jets have had penalty troubles throughout this series as they have given up a lot of power play opportunities. Unfortunately, their penalty kill has not been doing well either as they have allowed PK Subban to shred their zone apart with his one timer from the point. This was highlighted again as the Predators gained some momentum from the power play goal. The Jets gave Nashville too many opportunities during game seven that could have changed the narrative completely.

 

Thumbs up to the fourth line. I consider the Copp, Lowry, Armia line the ‘4th’ line but they sure played great during game seven. Every time this line came onto the ice the puck ended up behind Nashville’s net in a cycle game. This line dominated the ice with their aggressiveness and board play and they continually had the puck in the offensive end. For a defensive line, they played a great game and clearly outplayed their opposition

 

(A previous version of this article stated Scheifele only had 9 goals in the playoffs and was tied for second in scoring.)