Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets Day After: What Could Have Been if Not For Benn

I don’t think it’s worth getting too cranky over the Winnipeg Jets loss last night in Dallas for a few reasons. For one, the Jets have already had a pretty good run on this road trip going 3-0-0 into the game last night, so they had earned some leeway in that respect. Their solid 6-1-1 record in November also helped ease some of the anxiety we’ve had about this team. The fact that the team also battled back from being down 0-3 over halfway past the game to tie things up in the third was also very admirable.

But after the game last night I couldn’t help but feel as though that game was a missed opportunity to steal a point or maybe two. Maybe I feel that way because Luca Sbisa scored a goal and really any time a team gets a goal from him it should be a clear indication that it’s “their night” but it wasn’t.

So in going over my notes about last night’s game, there isn’t much I want to rant and rave about – outside of the continued misuse of Patrik Laine on the power play, but I am saving that rant for a whole other stand alone post that I am working on – and the continued passive nature of this Jets team overall, but there are a few things from the game worth pointing out…

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What is offsides any more?

This was just before the goal that made it 2-0 Dallas. Can you argue he had control of the puck? Perhaps. You can also argue that the puck isn’t on his stick and that he’s in the zone before the puck is.

I didn’t hate this challenge from Paul Maurice last night. I’ve seen it called offsides in other games around the NHL this season. Heck, the NHL general managers just had a discussion about it two days earlier. Sure it results in a penalty since he was “wrong” but at that point it was worth the risk to at least have another look in my opinion. Given the coin-flip nature NHL video review seems to be at times, there was just as good a chance that this goal could have been waved off as much as it was counted.

By the way I am with Ray Ferraro (who as always was fantastic on color last night) … Just scrap offsides altogether.

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They “Stayed In The Fight”

I admit to rolling my eyes a bit over the last couple of weeks any time a Jets player or coach mentioned that the Jets have adopted a “stay in the fight” mentality for a couple of different reasons. One would be that it was already an adopted motto of baseball’s Washington Nationals and thus a reminder of my own baseball team’s shortcomings this past season, but a second and more important reason would be that “stay in the fight” to me suggests a belief that this team doesn’t really have any talent when it clearly does, it’s just not being utilized properly.

That said, last night was definitely a game where the Jets kept on pressing and “stayed in the fight” which admittedly in other years with this Jets team wouldn’t have happened. I had watched most of the Dallas Stars 6-1 beat down of the Vancouver Canucks the night before and when the Stars got up 3-0 on Winnipeg, I expected to be seeing the same thing play out yet again only with the Jets as the victims, but to their credit the Jets didn’t appear to be rattled and their body language didn’t suggest any kind of give up – something helped by Kyle Connor’s goal less than a minute after the Radek Faksa goal to make it a 3-1 game.

Hellebuyck kept them in the fight.

Of course a lot of that “stay in the fight” is helped by Connor Hellebuyck because it wasn’t like the Stars just rolled over or the Jets flat out dominated the game once it was 3-0. From the time the Stars scored at the 13:19 mark of the second to make it 3-0 until the 15:14 mark of the third period when Luca Sbisa scored to make it 3-3, the Stars still outshot the Jets 10-8.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, the Jets by all rights should have been trailing after the first period but Hellebuyck was the difference there as well especially late in the first.

I felt as though Hellebuyck had another strong game even if the numbers don’t quite support it, but he did make a couple of critical errors that cost the team goals. The rebound he kicked directly to Mattias Janmark was less than ideal, but you could also look at Adam Lowry as part of the problem as well as he simply didn’t see Janmark coming in and could have helped prevent him from getting to the rebound.

The other goal I am willing to bet Hellebuyck would probably like another crack at would be the Jamie Benn game winner…

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Breaking down what went wrong on the Benn goal

First off, how dare Jamie Benn for ruining such a momentous occasion of Luca Sbisa scoring an actual NHL goal. The last time Sbisa had scored a goal was February 21, 2018 for the Vegas Golden Knights against the Calgary Flames, so it’s not like these things happen all the time. We barely got a chance to bask in the feel good vibes of Sbisa when Jamie Benn ruined all our fun.

With that out of the way, I’ve seen people put the blame on one or two players for that goal but let us all remember that hockey is a team sport.

Here’s the initial pass from Tucker Poolman to Laine along the boards. Poolman bounces it about five feet away from Laine instead of right to him which may have been because Tyler Seguin was on Poolman and it was the only angle available to him. Not a horrible mistake here, but it still makes for a tough play for Laine who is now by himself and has Jamie Benn and Justin Dowling quickly closing on him.

Laine struggles with the puck (and yes, admittedly he did all game, but that puck may as well have been a tennis ball with how much it bounced around all game. Seriously, someone in Dallas needs to freeze those pucks) as it bounces off his stick and the Stars quickly swarm the boards as they had done all night. Laine’s mishandle of the puck is mistake number two in this sequence but the Jets are still in ok shape here. No Star is behind any Jet and right here it’s a three on three situation.

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The puck quickly bounces to Jamie Benn while Josh Morrissey commits mistake number three in this sequence as he has been caught going to the loose puck battle that Laine had just been in and not keeping the play in front of him. Now Benn has a clear path to the Jets net and has forward momentum from coming in to the zone while Josh has lost body position on Jamie.

With Morrissey trying but unable to stop Benn, Hellebuyck goes for a desperation poke check and misses badly. Mistake number four in the sequence and it’s in the back of Winnipeg’s net.

Most times fans will try to single out one player or one play as the reason a goal happens, but the reality is it’s usually a series of mistakes and in this case four Jets players combined with Jamie Benn’s all-star worthy skill to make this goal happen.

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3-1-0 on the four game road trip is pretty good, but it could have been even better.