The Winnipeg Jets are on a two game winning streak and have had 2 dominating performances. They have allowed 19 shots against the Phoenix Coyotes and 22 shots against the Calgary Flames which is probably a nice break for Ondrej Pavelec, who usually handles 35-40 shots per game. But that’s not a statistic I look for because quite honestly stats are for losers. What’s really impressive is the quality of chances the Jets are allowing.
The Jets have tightened up on defence and whether that’s Paul Maurice’s doing or the players working hard after Claude Noel was let go is too early to tell, but it’s a pleasure to watch what this team is capable of. Yes, it was a struggling Coyotes team and a slumping Flames team but these were the types of teams the Jets were losing to consistently.
The Jets play another slumping team in the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and after 2 solid performances the adrenalin of a new coach will start to wear off and they’ll have to find other ways to become motivated.
If you don’t remember the last outing against the Oilers, the Oilers pasted the Jets 6-2 on December 23rd. Nail Yakupov was the center of the Jets attention that game after his blatant forearm/elbow to the head of Ondrej Pavelec and caused some stick work and rough stuff late in the game.
I don’t think the Jets are going to worry too much about Yakupov, maybe finish their checks on him hard all game but that’s about it. Yakupov isn’t going to fight anyone, so you might as well not waste your energy going after him too much. The elbow/forearm was on purpose and I was shocked Yakupov didn’t receive a suspension for it, considering Nazem Kadri’s similar goalie interference suspension in November.
It was a dirty play, but what was really interesting was the penalty calls late in the game which gave the Oilers a 5 on 3 powerplay for the last 3 minutes and 44 seconds of the game. 5 Jets players received penalties when every player on the ice for both teams were involved in scrums but only Yakupov received a penalty during that melee for the Oilers.
The Jets managed to kill off 3 minutes and 44 seconds of the 2 man advantage but not for the Oilers’ lack of effort. There was a face-off in the Jets’ zone with 13 seconds left in the game. Most teams with a 2 man advantage and a 6-2 lead would be killing off the remaining of the game and go home for the Christmas break with the 2 points. The Oilers went overboard on their attempts to score again on that powerplay, using their top powerplay unit and working their hardest to make it 7-2 trying to embarrass the Jets even more and rub salt in the wound. In the last 13 seconds the Oilers set up at least 3 one timers 10 feet inside the blueline and one or two cross ice passes down low instead of taking the puck back to center and running the time out.
That could be a huge motivator going into Saturday’s game against the Oilers. Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins went on a rant about Montreal Canadiens’ forward Lars Eller, when Eller said the Oilers play like a junior team sometimes, Eakins said, that young man might think twice about comments he makes and he learned a lesson that he’ll never forget and he thanked Eller for motivating his team to win that game against the Canadiens.
Eakins may have forgot that “lesson” as he sent out his top unit late in the game and let them use Pavelec for target practice to try and run up the score. Not just in the last 13 seconds but the last 3 and a half minutes of the game. Let’s hope the Jets haven’t forgot too much of the Noel era and use that as motivation for the game on Saturday.