Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ups & Let Downs: Jets Fly At Home Sweet Home

That was a bit more like it, right?

Two fairly satisfying wins this past weekend with the Jets taking out the division rival Avalanche on Friday and then taking advantage of a road weary, but still dangerous club from New Jersey on Sunday. Add a CFL Blue Bombers playoff win – the first in seven years – to a long weekend of sports, and… what the hell is this feeling Winnipeg sports fans have? Is… Is this… Happiness?! Pride and hopefulness in both professional sporting teams? Surely this feeling can last a while, can’t it?

While we bask in the glow of multiple victories, lets go over some of the finer details of the Jets last two games.

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Big Ups for actual Jets hockey to watch.

The Finland trip was fun for the players and all (sorry Sami Niku, wish U were there) but two games in the span of about two weeks even this early – especially after the trip where we didn’t get stories of the players arriving in a new country or taking in sites, or daily “holy crap you guys Patrik Laine loves it back home, he may never leave again” updates – felt like such a grind to get through. It’s a time honored tradition all fan bases will eventually go through where the idea of your favorite team playing somewhere exotic outside of North America has a fun appeal to it, until the games happen and you discover that it really was just a pair of regular hockey games that could have easily happened anywhere an had you not known for sure the games were in another country, you might not even have noticed a difference, and then you start hearing stories of players fighting jet lag or the time zone shifting, and then you realize you’ve gone two weeks with barely any contact with your favorite club and usually when they come back they’re a bit sluggish, and you start wondering… “What the hell was the point of any of that?”

The point was to make Patrik Laine happy.

I don’t know if that’s the NHL’s or the Jets actual reason for going to Finland, it probably isn’t. But if they came out tomorrow and said that was the lone reason they made the trip, I’d probably be very ok with it.

Big Ups for not coming back sluggish.

The Jets had some nice jump to the start of the first period on Friday which was cause for relief as bad starts to games have typically been a thing the Jets have had to struggle through before factoring in the whole idea of not having played competitive hockey for an entire week, so coming out with some spark, getting scoring chances – how fitting was it that Nic Petan really helped along the first scoring chance that Andrew Copp couldn’t quite finish – and jumping out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes was big.

Sure it was helped by a power play goal by Kyle Connor and then an odd-angle shot from Mark Scheifele that had no right getting past Semyon Varlamov, but the Jets were full value for that two goal lead in the first and it helped set a nice tone for the weekend.

In other “still playing pretty well news” from the weekend, Laine picked up another power play goal, Mathieu Perreault continued to be a great plug-in player, Nik Ehlers scored in his third straight game on Friday.

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“Pretty, pretty, pretty good”

A big weekend from the captain gets Big Ups

Five point night for Blake Wheeler on Friday with a goal (empty net) and four assists on Friday night, followed by two more assists on Sunday night which got him to 501 points as a member of the Winnipeg Jets. He now leads the league in assists and is third in league scoring. More importantly, he looked better than he has in the first couple of weeks in the season where people started wondering if he wasn’t dealing with an injury of some sort.

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Maybe another reason behind that Finland trip was to give Wheels some needed time off?

Blake’s positioning on the ice has been better, he seems to be reading plays quicker than he was and his passing has been downright magical.

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Not rolling four lines on Friday was a Let Down

As mentioned, Nic Petan and Andrew Copp combined for a really good scoring chance very early in the first period against Colorado.

So you would think that would have led to regular shifts on the ice, right?

Nope. Petan played a mere 5:45 and Jack Roslovic was less at 5:27.

This is near criminal use of young, talented forwards. This is so wrong. I am borderline angry about this. Someone needs to talk to Paul Maurice and…

Rolling four lines on Sunday gets Big Ups

… Oh hey! Petan played 11:40! Roslovic got up to 11:59! Urge to kill fading… fading…

See, was that so hard Maurice?

The ice times were helped by a severe lack of penalties in the game Sunday which hurt the Jets power play – it’s the first the man advantage units haven’t scored a goal in pretty much forever – but it’s very encouraging to see Maurice give that fourth line some much needed minutes and then to see Petan and Roslovic come through with solid play, a handful of scoring chances and a goal from Roslovic

The bottom six for the Jets is still a puzzle that needs to be figured out. Laine with Lowry and Tanev can’t be a full-time solution, but perhaps if Petan and Roslovic remain strong options, putting Laine with them on a third line could be a solution.

I have no idea what the real solution is and I don’t envy the Jets coaching staff for trying to figure it out, but I do know the answer isn’t “limit Petan and Roslovic’s ice time to under six minutes each.”

Big Ups to Connor Hellebuyck and the defense in general

62 saves on 66 shots over two games for a .939 save percentage is nothing to overlook. He was helped his own ability to limit rebounds, directing the ones he did give up away from danger spots, and by a defense that kept a lot of the play to the outside and away from the ‘home plate’ area in front of the Jets goal and slot area. There were still some miscues (I’m trying really hard not to single out Tyler Myers too much, but there were a couple of goals against this weekend he looked all kinds of lost on) and zone exits do remain a bit of an issue for the team defense, but otherwise a strong performance from them over the last two games.

As always, feel free to chime in with your players (or plays) that you think deserved some big ups or was a let down. Have your say in the comments below, or let us know on our Twitter or Facebook pages.