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Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets Day After: Maybe We’re Just Sleepwalking

That wasn’t the worst Winnipeg Jets game we’ve seen all season. I don’t even know if it cracks the top five worst games of the season list. (As a fan service, I won’t list what those five games are because I don’t even want to think about it that much or even come up with the list, but I do know three off the top of my head I felt much angrier about after they had finished)

But I do know that wasn’t a good effort at all and it happened with the Jets at home – having presumably been home since Thursday night / early Friday morning – against a divisional rival that is in the middle of a road trip and having just fired their head coach a week earlier and teetering on the verge of either being able to make a mid-season run back to a playoff position or a few more losses away from becoming proverbial sellers at the deadline.

Given all of that, and the opportunity the Jets had on Sunday afternoon to throw a little more dirt onto the Nashville Predators, maybe what’s worse than the team having a game where the usual bad trends that have plagued this team all season were ever present, was that the Jets showed little to no emotion through the entire game.

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No one seemed fired up during it. Sure there was a brief flurry of physical activity in the second period, but it led to nothing and it just kind of stopped as quickly as it started. Minutes ticked by through the final period and… nothing. No desperation or a sense of urgency. Seemingly no understanding that down 0-1 that the game was still right there for the Jets to take.

So it wasn’t the worst Jets game we’ll see all season, but it maybe was one of the most disappointing.

It was shinny

Andrew Copp clearly said “shinny” when describing just how poorly the Jets played in the first period, but people could be forgiven if they felt he said “shitty” instead because that would have maybe been a more apropos description.

Not just the turnovers – which were bad of course and led directly to the lone goal of the entire game being scored – but right from the start it almost felt like the Jets were playing as a team that expected to show up at the rink and just be handed two points in the standings.

There was no real “attack” to their game, it was just 19 guys who showed up at the rink on a Sunday afternoon to skate around and just have a casual hockey game. Nashville was all too happy to take whatever the Jets gave them and were careful not to wake a sleeping beast with any kind of physical play themselves, not that they had to what with the Jets handing them the puck time and time again.

Any Jets forays into the offensive zone either finished with a shot taken from long distance that was retrieved by the Predators, or a turnover without a shot taken at all, and that happened for pretty much the entire game.

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All hail Hellebuyck

Maybe the other reason why this game doesn’t feel like one of the worst Jets games we’ll see this season is because Connor Hellebuyck did everything in his power to not make it a blowout early.

The Predators had a 15-7 lead in shots after the first period – ten minutes into the game they were 10-4 for Nashville (although Mason Appleton had also rang a puck off the post that of course doesn’t count) – and had five high danger scoring chances in the opening frame which was a stark contract to the Jets zero chances.

And it wasn’t just that the Predators were getting all the shots, it was that they were getting them off of turnovers and quick change situations that constantly called for Hellebuyck to remain sharp at all times which he was and you can’t really fault him for being unable to stop what essentially was a 2 on 0 scoring chance.

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Hellebuyck was great and easily the best Jet on the ice on Sunday afternoon.

“The middle of the ice is lava”

Courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, what is with this team and not getting to the front of the opposing net and the slot area? It’s almost remarkable how consistent this map has been no matter who the Jets are facing. Almost everything is taken from distance and outside of a few token chances around the Predators net, there is no hint of any shot activity until you get 75 feet away from the net to the blue line.

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Andrew Copp – who during the game had some interesting comments – had an explanation as to why maybe this is the case, but it’s not a very good one.

He’s right in that there is something to be said for not trying to “force” pucks to the slot area which end up just being blocks and turnovers, but there were far too many times in Sunday’s game – and really in a lot of games over this past month – where it has felt like the Jets have been really hesitant to attack that area and just settle for shots from the blue line that do take advantage of open shot lanes given by the other team – but that are also typically seen by opposing goalies and stopped.

While the Jets do have some above average finishing talent with their forwards, they can’t keep relying on shots from far out fooling goalies on a regular basis.