3 things the Winnipeg Jets did well in game 1 and 3 things they can improve on for game 2

Photo credit:© James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
4 days ago
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I said it before earlier today in my game summary of game 1, but wow, what a way to begin the playoffs for the Winnipeg Jets. A 7-6 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Come playoff time, there’s so many little details that can be talked about after each and every game. In a game with 13 goals, it’s difficult to ignore how all of the scoring will have an impact in the bigger picture of things for the rest of the series. There’s things the Jets did well in game 1, and there’s things they can improve on for game 2. I present to you 3 of each that I noticed from game 1, beginning with what went well, because it’s always nice to focus on the positives, especially after a win.

What went well in game 1

1. Ability to respond quickly
Going back to what I just mentioned, when there’s 13 goals in any hockey game you begin to notice how and when the goals are scored. The Jets getting 7 goals on 23 shots is impressive in itself, whether Alexandar Georgiev was having a bad night in goal for the Avalanche or if it was a result of scoring when it mattered for the Jets. Above all, the timing of the goals is what stood out to me the most. Playoff hockey is broken down goal by goal, and every goal gets amplified in terms of its importance as the game goes on. That’s why the Jets ability to respond to whenever the Avalanche scored was impressive, because they didn’t let it get to their heads. Josh Morrissey’s goal to tie the game at 1 happened under 2 minutes after the Avalanche opened the scoring. Mark Scheifele’s goal to tie the game at 3 was less than a minute after the Jets went down 3-2. Finally, Kyle Connor gave the Jets a 7-4 lead just over 2 minutes after the Avalanche got some momentum from closing the Jets lead to 6-4. Those 3 goals showcase the Jets ability as a team to respond quickly when it was most needed.
2. Generating chances by getting the puck in front
The next thing the Jets did well, again relating to how they managed 7 goals, was how they generated chances in front of the net. The best examples of the Jets executing these chances was Scheifele’s goal to tie the game at 3 and Lowry’s goal to make it 5-3 Jets. Honorable mention to Kyle Connor’s goal that made it 7-4, because the play from Scheifele and Vilardi that set him up in front was outstanding. Each of these 3 goals were finished off in their own unique way, but they were all set up by getting the puck to the area right in front of the crease. If the Jets can continue to be able to move the puck into this prime scoring area, they’ll be seeing more goals like those ones all series long.
3. Playing to the crowd’s energy
This one is a bit more difficult to explain, but it was something that I noticed throughout game 1 that helped give the Jets the advantage. The Winnipeg Whiteout had the Canada Life Centre rocking all game, and the Jets seemed to match the energy from the crowd in all the right moments. Being the home team can only be advantageous if your fans show up and bring the energy that’s needed. Luckily for the Jets, their fans showed that they were ready for playoff hockey. You could tell that the players were feeding off the energy of the crowd, giving them an edge on the ice. Again, it’s hard to explain because it’s a feeling only the players in the moment know what’s it like, but you can tell what it does to them by the way they played in game 1. The fans will surely be ready for game 2.

What to improve on for game 2

1. Costly turnovers
I’ll admit it, explaining what a team can improve on for the next game is more difficult than explaining what they did well. After all, I’m not a coach, I’m not on the team, so who’s to know what needs to be done better than the players themselves? One of the things that everyone can agree on though is that the turnovers in the Jets own end need to stop. The Avalanche 2nd and 3rd goals are the best examples of this, mostly because those were 2 of the turnovers that cost the Jets a goal. The Jets have to be careful with how they bring the puck out of their own zone. Too many times it seems like they don’t know where everyone is on the ice, and a bad pass turns to a goal for the other team just like that. Whatever the case, the turnovers in the Jets end need to be eliminated.
2. Don’t rely on Hellebuyck too much
Ok, this one needs a bit of pre-explaining. Obviously, I know how good of a goalie Connor Hellebuyck is, but the Jets need to realize that goaltending works a little differently in the playoffs. Any goalie in the playoffs can get hot or cold at the right or wrong time, so it’s a delicate area on the team that needs to be paid attention to game by game. Hellebuyck had 40 saves on 46 shots, so he did just as good as he needed to (if not more) in order to help the Jets get the win. In game 2, I’d like to see the Jets limit the Avalanche’s chances whenever possible. Hellebuyck will likely show his brilliance if the team in front of him helps limit high danger scoring chances. All I’m saying here is yes, Hellebuyck needs to be great again, that’s a given. The Jets simply need to not rely too much on him being great, and help him out by limiting the shots on goal and most importantly, the scoring chances.
3. Lock it down on the penalty kill
The Avalanche went a perfect 2 for 2 on the powerplay in game 1. The problem for the Jets wasn’t so much taking penalties, because they only took 2, but the resulting play when the Avalanche got the man advantage. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar are a dynamic trio on the powerplay, and are able to move the puck around very effectively. Again, I’m not a coach, but what I would suggest the Jets do to help their penalty kill is blocking the passing lanes that the Avalanche try to take advantage of often. The Jets did well at blocking shots in game 1, with 25 blocked shots, but one way to help limit shots on goal and the penalty kill is to stop the puck from getting moved around to the clear areas of the ice. Penalties are going to happen in the playoffs, but look for the Jets to make sure that when they go down a man they shut down the Avalanche, not giving them any premium scoring chances.
There’s 3 things that went well in game 1 for the Jets and 3 things that I hope the Jets can fine tune going into game 2. Another thing about the playoffs is noticing what changes are made between each game, so we’ll get to see how the Jets adjust tomorrow night. It’s tough to tell how game 2 will go down, but another Jets win would keep their home ice advantage intact and would give them big 2-0 series lead.



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