The Winnipeg Jets took care of business during game one of the conference final. They grabbed a lead early in the game with Dustin Byfuglien scoring just over a minute in. The fans finally had a reason to cheer as the Jets were shutout against Nashville during their last home game. The celebration wouldn’t stop there as Patrik Laine made it a two goal game less than six minutes later. The action continued for the rest of the period as the Jets scored a goal after a lengthy review and Vegas got on the board just 35 seconds later. The game settled down after that with each team scoring one goal in the second period. The Jets shut things down in the third period and played great defensively to preserve their two goal lead until the time ran out. Here are the thumbs up and thumbs down for the first game of the conference finals.
Thumbs up the start of the game. The last home game for Winnipeg did not go as planned as the Jets fell to the Predators 4-0 in game six of the last round. This time around, the fans didn’t have to wait to get on their feet. Dustin Byfuglien blew a rocket past Fleury just over a minute into the game to get Bell MTS Place rocking. The Jets kept it up for the rest of the period and headed into the first intermission up by two goals. It was a great start on home ice that showed the Jets are ready for the third round.
Thumbs down to taking penalties. In a game where the Jets were leading from the start, it was important not to give Vegas any momentum to spark a come back. The potential turning point came late in the first period after the Jets had just been scored on. The Jets had a three goal lead and appeared to be heading towards a blowout when Vegas scored a quick goal to make it a two goal game. The Jets then took a penalty late in the first which would have completely changed the game. If Vegas was able to score it would have been a one goal game heading into the second period, instead the Jets preserved their two goal lead and held on the rest of the game. In tight games where momentum can flip at any moment, it’s crucial to stay out of the penalty box.
Thumbs up to the stars of the club. The best players for the Winnipeg Jets were the big name players as Wheeler, Byfuglien and Scheifele all played well. The first goal was a great shot by Byfuglien that was assisted by Scheifele and Wheeler. These three connected again as Scheifele tipped a shot from Byfuglien on the power play with Wheeler picking up the second assist. Wheeler also made a fantastic pass through the crease where Laine slammed home another power play goal. The most talented players for the Jets came through and made the difference in game one.
Thumbs down to not keeping a three goal lead. The Jets have had problems all year with the next shift after scoring. For some reason the team lets their guard down and gives up more quality chances right after they score. This happened in game one as the Jets had a three goal lead, only for it to be taken away 35 seconds later. The Jets went up by three again in the second period, but it was short lived when Vegas scored six minutes later. The Jets need to be able to hold onto their leads for longer to prolong the momentum and give themselves some breathing room.
Thumbs up to the power play. The Jets have struggled at times on the power play throughout these playoffs. The man advantage was not strong against Nashville as they continually lost puck battles along the boards and couldn’t seem to get set up. There were no issues in game one as the Jets had two power play goals and looked dangerous all game. The puck movement was strong and they were able to make quick passes and really spread out the Vegas penalty kill. When the power play is performing, the Jets are a really tough team to beat. Because these teams are very similar, whoever wins the special teams battle will most likely win the series. In game one, it was the Jets winning this battle and the game.
Thumbs up and down to coach’s challenges. Even though it may have some bad reputation, the coach’s challenge is a good thing for the NHL. This challenge capability forced the refs to take another look at the Armia goal and change their initial call on the ice. The ability to challenge the play is a big thumbs up because it allows coach’s to influence the game in a different way than they could in previous years. The downside to the coaches challenge is the waiting times for the review. The Golden Knights had plenty of time to regroup and calm down after they were on their heels for the first ten minutes of the game. The challenge essentially gave Vegas a free timeout which they used to their advantage. Just 35 seconds after the challenge overturned the initial call, the Golden Knights were able to score their first of the series. Thumbs down the coach’s challenge for taking so long to review even though they did get the call right.