What a game!
It’s getting to be that games between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets are almost sure bets to be just crazy hockey that will leave fans talking about what they’ve just seen for days on end, or at least until the next game which in an unfortunate way is 24 hours later for the Jets who hopped on a plane and shipped off to Boston right after beating the Leafs 4-3 in a shootout.
But we still have a few hours between then and now so let’s go over some of the stuff we saw Wednesday night…
“Deserve” has nothing to do with it.
As the game went along I saw fans (mostly Leafs fans, imagine that) state that Toronto was the better team on the night and that they ‘deserved’ better than to be trailing for most of the game as they did. A lot of them cited xG (which funny enough our good friend Yuri went into detail about in a piece I highly recommend all fans read) which was a stat the Leafs dominated in pretty much all game.
There is some validity to that point, except for the fact that expected goals isn’t – or at least shouldn’t be – a be-all-end-all stat to ultimately dictate who “deserves” to win a game. If you need proof of that, consider that Mark Scheifele’s goal in the second period – the one he scored while the Jets had a 3 on 1 (calling it a 4 on 1 chance is being a bit generous really) scoring chance only had a 3.2% chance of scoring according to Money Puck’s xG model, yet an Auston Matthews shot three minutes later that went wide of the Jets net – completely missed – had a 10.4% chance of scoring.
So, shot on a scoring chance with three Jets bearing down on a Leafs goalie had statistically less of a chance to be a goal than a puck that ultimately didn’t even hit the net. Granted, that statement in-itself is a bit disingenuous because Auston’s chance was during a Leafs power play, the shot taken was a lot closer than the Scheifele shot and yadda, yadda… My point is all stats no matter how great need to have context included as well.
Expected goals is a great tool for telling us which team is getting more scoring chances, or as in the case of last night better scoring chances, but the idea the Leafs were getting better scoring chances isn’t exactly a shock to Jets fans who are pretty much used to seeing this as a regular heat map for shots game in and game out no matter who the Jets are against…
So sure, most nights xG should be a great indication of who deserves to win games but it’s not perfect. Otherwise if it was, the Jets should have 13 wins in the 13 games this season where they have had an edge in overall xG, instead of the 9-4-0 record they do have in that situation. That’s still a pretty good record of course, but if you narrow that list down to games where the Jets had 55 or better xGF%, their record is 5-2-0 with three of those five wins needing overtime or a shootout to be decided, so it could just as easily be 2-2-3 if not for some OT magic.
This all brings me to my second point about who “deserves” to win games, and that is “deserves” has nothing to do with hockey. How many times this season have we seen a phenomenal effort in goal by Connor Hellebuyck only to be in a losing case? I’d argue the Jets deserved a better fate a little over a week ago when they hosted these same Maple Leafs, had more scoring chances, were practically even with them in xG and lost 6-3.
So bottom line: I hope that “deserves” helps Leafs fans feel better about the loss, but the Jets earned that win.
Whew, I kind of went on a rant there a bit, didn’t I? I try to keep these things under 1000 words and I now have about 200 to spare, so I’ll keep my other thoughts brief and maybe expand on them once we get past the Boston game.
Second line Copp
Early in the game Andrew Copp started to see a regular shift on the second line as Pal Maurice flipped Copp up the lineup with Jack Roslovic who went to the third line. For the most part it worked out ok (we’ll look past the absolute brutal Copp turnover that led to the Leafs second goal) and this is something I’d like to see the Jets continue with in Boston.
Perfect Penalty Kill
The penalty kill was a perfect three for three, one for each period. The first kill was punctuated by the Mason Appleton goal but I thought was a nice, aggressive kill that looked more dangerous than the Leafs power play. The second period kill was by far the worst and by some miracle despite the four shot attempts made, the Jets dodged a bullet. The third PK was kind of a combination of the first two kills, aggressive for parts, but also gave up a couple of good chances that Hellebuyck had to be sharp for. At any rate, that’s two games in a row the Jets haven’t given up a power play goal… Hooray!
I have to stop saying nice things about Laine
Earlier in the day I saw another site mention how Patrik Laine hasn’t put up the goal scoring numbers we expect and how that is “disappointing” and it triggered a mini-Twitter rant. Laine then proceeds to have a rather poor night at both ends of the ice against Toronto, making me regret everything I said hours earlier.
To his credit, Laine was huge in the overtime session, especially in his end of the rink where he basically thwarted a couple of Leafs scoring chances before they even had a chance to happen. There is also that shot. That beautiful, beautiful shot. I shared it as a gif on our Twitter feed but of course Twitter did it’s thing and compressed it even more than it was so you don’t see the puck leave his stick and fly past Frederik Andersen, so here’s video of that goal…
You still don’t really see that puck. You get like two frames of that video where you can see a puck just before it zips past the goalie, that’s how great that shot is. Mr. Anderson had no chance. Laine had a relatively poor game, but redeemed himself. That’s almost the best kind of game.
Two for two on the Jets Revenge Tour!
Loss to Montreal avenged on Monday.
Loss to Toronto avenged on Wednesday.
Boston hasn’t played Winnipeg yet this season, but we’re sure they are a bunch of jerks (the bad kind of jerks, not the good kind like Carolina) and deserve to have revenge extracted from them as well.