A Winnipeg Jets 4-2-0 record out of this much anticipated six game homestand isn’t great, but it’s better than a .500 record or worse. The Jets still have a chance to put a string of wins together even as they go on the road and make a real run at a possible playoff spot that they remained one point out of after beating the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
A lot of us thought that this six game homestand was going to tell us if the Jets should be buyers or sellers at the Trade Deadline next week and the reality is these last six games haven’t told us anything definitive. Should they be buyers and help their chances to make a very reachable playoff spot? Yes. Should they give up on the season, sell some assets and get a jump on planning for next season? Yes? Does trading for Dylan DeMelo do both of those things? Strangely enough, yes.
At least they won’t fall behind early to the Los Angele.. OH C’MON!
Going into the game the Kings were known for two things this season: Being high volume shooters and not really seeing much in the way of actual goals from all that shooting. So it didn’t really surprise anyone when the Kings started firing pucks at Connor Hellebuyck almost the moment they got across the blueline, and it wasn’t surprising to see the Jets struggle with defending an odd-man rush into their end of the ice or get the puck out of danger right away. Nothing about how the first goal happened was surprising, it’s just surprising that it happened 35 freakin seconds into the game!
And it happened against the Kings! The same LA Kings who traded away the one goalie they had on the roster who wasn’t on the downward arc of his career last week, then traded leading goal scorer to Vancouver the night before and then held out their second best defenseman because they are about to trade him…
There are no “easy” games in the NHL – especially when it comes to games involving these Winnipeg Jets – but falling behind early in games to the likes of Chicago and Los Angeles doesn’t bode well for the overall outlook of the Jets even if all three games ended up being victories. I don’t even mind seeing the Jets give up the first goal in a game (although at a record of 10-17-4 when being scored on first, it’s highly advisable that the Jets don’t) and I don’t even mind seeing the Jets down a goal after one period (although again, when trailing after one the Jets were 6-13-3, so again, not advisable) but can we at least get through the first five minutes of a game without seeing the jets trailing in a game? Please?
It could have actually been worse than being down 1-0 after 20, but Hellebuyck bailed the Jets out as he does. This game had the potential to be ugly early and against a team like the Kings, that’s kind of concerning for the overall outlook of the Winnipeg Jets.
That 2015 Moose ELC HAR Line.
What if Harkins / Appleton / Roslovic is the top line and we just didn't realize it?
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) February 19, 2020
First off, this was meant as a joke. Just a little fun being had on TwitterDotCom, but it’s kind of funny that I tweeted this last night and then seconds later, and I mean I hit “send” on the tweet and two seconds later…
WHAT IF HARKINS / APPLETON / ROSLOVIC IS THE TOP LINE?!?
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) February 19, 2020
The Jets aren’t going to get two goals per game from this line every night and it’s very unreasonable to think otherwise. That said they are playing with a higher level of energy than anyone else in the lineup. Blake Wheeler mentioned that the energy and work effort that line has shown over the last couple of games has a way of inspiring other players on the team to work just as hard.
I’d argue though that it’s not so much working hard as that line is working smart, keeping things simple and driving to the net almost every chance they get. If Paul Maurice is truly telling his team to attack the opposing blueline with speed, then it feels like only he Harkins/Appleton/Roslovic line is doing that while every other line is trying to get by with a lame dump and chase tactic that has been more ‘dump and see the other team take it’ than ‘dump and get the puck back.’
As for the other lines in the game…
Eventually Maurice re-reunited Wheeler with MARK SCHEIFELE and Nikolaj Ehlers and of course that line did well, because again Ehlers is fantastic at offensive zone entries while Scheifele and Wheeler do have great chemistry and find a way to get themselves open and find each other with the puck. Expect that to be a line Maurice rolls with as they head out on to the roll.
Andrew Copp with Patrik Laine and KYLE CONNOR is also a thing and it really didn’t work out well and if anything they were benched at times during the third period because they were getting torched repeatedly. This line could prove to be a problem down the road unless Copp figures out a way to be a consistent line driver because KC will likely never be that (he’s more of a play finisher than a creator), and while Laine has really developed his two-way game this season, he’s not the type to carry a line either.
The Jets also have a fourth line. It’s really not much to speak of, and at least it’s not being scored on.
DeMelo to the rescue?
It was hard not to watch the game last night and feel like Dylan DeMelo will be a big upgrade over the likes of Tucker Poolman (who really struggled last night) or even Nathan Beaulieu. There was also some plays from Neal Pionk last night that made me feel like a little less ice time for him would only be a benefit going forward.
We’ll all have to guard against heightened expectations, but given how bad the Jets defense has been this season, DeMelo will be a big improvement.