This one probably stings a bit more than the first game against the Leafs, but the reason it does is because the Jets had a universally agreed better game than they did on Wednesday against this same Maple Leafs club.
In the end, it was a poor third period highlighted by a Jets team that panicked a bit and 26 seconds seconds late int he game that sunk the Jets on the night.
Frustrating, but there are signs this team can and will figure it out.
Starting the game “on time” gets Big Ups
It was refreshing to see the Jets actually playing well to start a game. Their gap control was a lot better, they made zone entries much more difficult for the Leafs, they didn’t quite allow so much traffic in front of their net. That said, they were still out shot for the game and NatrualStatTrick listed the scoring chances in the first period in favor of the Leafs by a 9-3 ratio in the first period with four of those being considered high danger chances. The Leafs did have the better of the play for most of the game, but when you consider it was the second game of a back to back on the road for the Jets, their effort to match the Leafs for the most part was at the very least highly encouraging.
Big Ups to Patrik Laine
It sure seems like Patty is suddenly the whipping boy for a lot of Jets fans on social media and I’m not exactly sure why that is.
It’s almost like threatening to lead the league in goals and constant comparisons to 33 year old, 14 season veteran Alex Ovechkin makes us all forget that Laine is only 20 years old and just starting his third year as a pro. Laine is still developing his game, he’s still going to make mistakes.
A lot was made of his “demotion” to the fourth line, but it really wasn’t a demotion at all. He played 16:06 which was the sixth highest amount Jets forwards. He still had time on the top power play line. He actually had the most time on the ice with Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev, which may not be the best match for his offense but it did help the defensive side of the game.
This was maybe his best and most complete effort from him this entire season which I realize is strange when you look at his stat line. One shot on goal and four giveaways, but also had two takeaways and was credited for a blocked shot. But if you look beyond his numbers, I thought he played a much better engaged game than he has maybe all season. It doesn’t help that Byfuglien barked at him at the end of the game which only caused some fans to overreact, but if you watch that play it kind of illustrates where Laine may be at in terms of development.
Buff does this somewhat awkward drop pass back to him in the corner, but Laine hesitates because if he makes a move to that puck he opens himself up to have it chipped past him by Zach Hyman who is in the mix there and creating pressure.
Laine is a kid who is doubting his play a little bit, something perfectly normal for a third season, 20 year old kid. Remember how Mark Scheifele was in his first few years as a pro?
Relax over Laine.
Big Ups to special teams
It’s scored a goal in eight straight games. Also three times short handed – which speaks to how much better they’ve gotten better with their penalties – and all three were killed. We really can’t complain too much about that part of the game for the Jets.
Big Ups for breakaways
Mark Scheifele’s breakaway was a thing of absolute beauty and it basically started back at the Jets blue line as he stripped Kadri and then hit the boost button…
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) October 28, 2018
Nik Ehlers of course had one earlier and was stopped, which at least was a positive in that he had a puck on goal, which makes it funnier than Ehlers was the man trialing Scheifele on that breakaway. Hopefully Nik picked up a couple of pointers for his next breakaway.
That third period was a Let Down
Of course it goes without saying, but really the biggest issue from at least my point of view is that the Jets right now are a team fighting against the burden of expectation. It’s a team not 100% confident in their play and right now are playing more not to lose games than they are trying to win.
It might seem odd considering the season they just had where they proved they would win a lot and one of the hallmarks of that team was their ability to be scored on and almost instantly shake it off and carry on, but as the players and coaches themselves have said, this is a new season. Opposing teams view them differently now and will be more “up” for their games. The Jets are going to have teams give them their best effort for 60 minutes and that can be a little jarring for a club that has never had to deal with that.
Nazem Kadri scored to make it a 2-1 game and the Jets locked up. You could see it in their play for the next ten minutes after as they gave up about ten straight scoring chances against before the Leafs tied and then took the lead near the end of the game.
Unlike the game against Edmonton where the Jets clearly got too cute and lazy with a big lead, the Jets had a nice effort against the Leafs even in the third period, they just gripped the sticks way too tight and it cost them.
Big Ups to some time off
There’s been hints and whispers that maybe the Finland trip has been more distracting for the team than they let on. I doubt that, but still it’ll be nice to get it out of the way after this week. Here’s hoping the guys enjoy their (working) European vacation, Laine gets a little home cooking to settle his play down and the Jets can bring two wins back to The Peg.