Game two is now in the books with the Jets grabbing their first win of the pre-season as they downed the Wild last night. For the details of the game itself, check out our post-game recap.
While winning the game is always important, there are other things to dissect when it comes to pre-season hockey. The Jets looked much better in this game, but that’s likely due to playing a more veteran lineup across the board.
So what exactly did we learn from the second pre-season game?
1) Better players give better results.
While this may sound obvious, the main reason why Winnipeg looked better in this game is because of the better players in the lineup. The top two lines were by far the most effective at controlling play and setting up plenty of scoring chances. Specifically, the line of Copp, Lowry, and Wheeler were responsible for two goals within their first shift. Speaking of that line, it leads to our second point.
2) Give Me More of Copp, Lowry, Wheeler
Yes, I know it’s a pre-season game. Yes, I understand that the Wild didn’t play their best players. Regardless of the situation, the top line of Copp, Lowry, Wheeler was phenomenal in this game. This could be a really intriguing option to use during the regular season if the Jets are looking to spread out the scoring ability among multiple lines.
The prior line of Tanev, Lowry, Copp was one of the most efficient and structurally sound lines that the Jets have seen since returning to Winnipeg. Substitute Tanev for an equally fast, but stronger and more skilled winger like Wheeler and you get a lethal combination. The possession for that line would be off the charts and Wheeler could bring a much needed scoring touch to both Lowry and Copp. If Maurice is looking to spread the talent around this year, this option would make for a really great option.
3) Morrissey is a monster.
Josh Morrissey is elite. The rest of the hockey world might not know it yet, but Morrissey is truly a number one defensmen in the league. He’s always in the right spot which makes his game seem effortless. He can defend with the best of them, but doesn’t sacrifice offense as he can quarterback a powerplay or transition the puck with ease.
In this game, Morrissey routinely made smart decisions and looked like the best defensmen in the game. His stick was active in the defensive end and he also got to chip in offensively as he scored a goal on the powerplay.
Like Maurice said at the start of camp, Morrissey won’t be asking for more minutes this season. With such a thin blueline, Morrissey is truly going to prove his worth to the club.
- Beyond Morrissey, the defense is still a mixed bag. Niku had some really strong moments in this game including setting up the opening goal with a beautiful spinning pass right to Andrew Copp. The rest of the defense was mediocre as Bitetto and Kulikov struggled at times. Poolman wasn’t too bad either and Heinola rounded out the crew with a strong first game.
- Speaking of Heinola, I was impressed with how calm he appeared. Decision-making is paramount in the NHL and it seems like he is on the right track. Although he was over-powered a few times, it was a strong start for Heinola who might not be too far away from the NHL.
- Brossoit was solid in this game. He wasn’t tested much through the first two periods but he made some nice saves as the game went along. He was moving well and kept his composure even when the puck was bouncing around in front of him.
- The pairing of Niku and Morrissey was fun to watch. If they keep the chemistry up, there’s a chance that they start the season as the top pairing. While I like Niku, the real reason I want this to happen is because Niku took Trouba’s old number 8. Seeing 44 paired with 8 has been commonplace for the last year and I propose that the Jets use that same pairing again.
- Vesalainen was not very noticeable for a second straight game. His one shining moment was a gorgeous backdoor pass on the powerplay, but other than that there wasn’t much to see when Vesalainen was on the ice. He will have to pick up his game if he wants to have a roster spot out of training camp.
- Lastly, Chibisov could make some noise and make his way into the bottom six. He’s a big guy who has a knack for finding the action. He had a few nice moves in the offensive end and the Jets might keep him around as a depth/pressbox player.