All’s well that ends well, right?
Well, not exactly. While the Winnipeg Jets managed to win their third preseason game in dramatic fashion, they were severely out-played by a sub-par Flames squad who featured nearly no NHL talent.
With a tough pre-season schedule, the Jets were on a back to back after losing to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night. This meant the Jets were able to play most of their high end players because the squad in Edmonton consisted mainly of rookies and Moose players.
This game was somewhat of an experiment as the Jets ran two separate defensive pairings with players on their off-side. This means that Byfuglien/Myers were together as right hand defensemen, and Chiarot/Kulikov were together as left hand defensemen.
Preseason is the perfect time to try these type of experiments but it ended up with some mixed results. Myers had multiple giveaways in his own end and looked quite awkward navigating his backhand on the breakout.
Alternatively, Byfuglien didn’t seem to mind that his partner was struggling as he managed to score two goals including the game winner in overtime.
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) September 22, 2018
One of the good parts about playing the off-side is that it should help on wheel plays coming out from behind the net. While this should be a positive aspect, Myers ended up turning over the puck in this exact situation which led directly to a Flames goal.
While we are still on the topic of Myers having a bad game, for some reason he decided to jump on the rush while the Jets were on a 5 on 3 penalty kill. This play backfired as the Flames stopped the rush, turned it back the other way, and sniped the top corner over Hellebuyck’s shoulder.
I mean, not sure why you'd be leading a rush down the ice as a defencemen on the wrong side of a 5-on-3.
— Scott Billeck (@ScottBilleck) September 22, 2018
Perhaps the only time the off-handedness helped the Jets was in the offensive end. Having two defenders with the same hand gives a one-time option with a D to D pass. It also gives a more lethal offensive faceoff setup. There was one play where the faceoff was won straight back to Kulikov who immediately one-timed it towards the net. Even though the shot got blocked, this quick strike option is intriguing if the Jets keep the same handed players together.
The other big takeaway from this game is the fact that Ehlers, Little, Laine might not be a good fit together. The idea has been tossed around for a while that this line would be better off playing apart and this game further fueled those thoughts. This line couldn’t sustain any pressure all game and were routinely caught out of position. It was not a good showing for the Jets second line.
If nothing else preseason is showing us some stuff:
Laine/Ehlers/little don't work
Myers on the left side yikes
Roslovic is a better winger than center
Yes I know these are things we kind of knew before preseason.
— not affiliated 🐺 (@Tony_MBHKY) September 22, 2018
With the second line performing so poorly, Maurice decided to switch things up and replace Ehlers with Perreault. Perreault had a solid game where we drew two penalties in the first period and was a nuisance on the forecheck. This constant battling led to Maurice making this change to give the second line a little more jump.
This change from Maurice prompted questions after the game about Ehlers and Laine and whether or not they need someone like Perreault on their line.
The full quote: Paul Maurice, when I asked if Ehlers and Laine need a battler on their line like Mathieu Perreault OR if they need to become battlers? pic.twitter.com/1dDlHRdU0O
— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) September 22, 2018
There was a little bit of rust to start this game as quite a few Jets were making their debut in game three. This included the first line who had plenty of chances in the first period but couldn’t seem to capitalize.
1st period over and the Jets are down 1-0. Laine, Scheifele and at the very end of the period Kyle Connor had great chances to score.. But no go. pic.twitter.com/uTQxtapvV6
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) September 22, 2018
The power play suffered the same fate as the Jets were getting great looks but couldn’t score. It looked good in regards to their zone entries as they were utilizing the middle of the ice through most of the first period. The passing lanes were also located as Wheeler found both Laine and Scheifele for great scoring chances.
This game also included Hellebuyck for the first time this preseason. He looked a little bit shaky at the beginning but finished strong in the third period and made some nice saves near the end of the game. It appeared that Hellebuyck was moving around his crease a little more than usual, almost over-committing on certain passes. This was probably due to the poor defensive zone play and he will likely settle in to his usually efficient self.
Maurice on Hellebuyck. “I thought he warmed up and kind of got stronger. He got better and made some good saves there at the end of the second. That’s a tough one for goaltenders coming into exhibition hockey. You don’t see the things you’re used to seeing.” #NHLJets
— Jamie Thomas (@JamieThomasTV) September 22, 2018
The last thing to mention is how poorly the Jets played in their own end. They allowed zone entries with little resistance and got caught running around multiple times without the puck. They kept the play to the outside effectively, but they gave up far too many chances from their poor zone coverage and slow breakouts.
In the end, it didn’t matter that they struggled in their own end as they tied the game with a minute left and won the game in overtime. Obviously it would have been nice to perform better as a team and win in a more convincing fashion but it was nice to see the resiliency despite not playing their best.