© Geoff Brookes
“I used to be a rolling stone you know
If the cause was right
I’d leave to find the answer on the road”
Elton John and Bernie Taupin, “Philadelphia Freedom”
The Winnipeg Jets continue to be road warriors, with an overall road record of 8-4-3. (By contrast, they’re just 4-5-1 at the MTS Centre.)
After solid efforts in losses to Detroit and St. Louis at home, the Jets beat two of the weaker teams in the NHL – Buffalo and Columbus – before losing to Boston in overtime.
The really good news is that Winnipeg has been consistently beating the weaker teams in the NHL. I mean this quite seriously. For the first 3 years of Jets 2.0, they’ve struggled with consistency. In past years, they’d beat Boston, and then lose to Florida.
Not this year. Looking back, we can see that the Jets haven’t lost in regulation to any of the NHL’s weaker teams this year. Not once. If they can maintain this consistency, battle it out with the top teams, and get the odd point or victory (like the Bruins, Black Hawks, Penguins and Rangers), then they will continue to stay in the playoff hunt.
Columbus – 4-2 victory. After consecutive losses at home, it was good to register a win. In my opinion, Columbus is much better than their record, especially given that many injured players are now back in their lineup. Arguably their worst game of the road trip, there were many positives. Evander Kane scored 2 goals (although 1 was the empty net goal). Michael Hutchinson played well, stopping 32 of 34 shots. The Little, Ladd and Wheeler line had 2 goals. Bryan Little scored just 9 seconds into the game, on a nice “give and go” with Andrew Ladd.
Buffalo – 2-1 win. A much better defensive effort, in which the Jets limited the Sabres to just 10 shots through the first 2 periods, and just 20 shots for the game. Pavelec was sharp, and Michael Frolik scored a short-handed goal. Bryan Little opened the scoring once again, on the power play. The Jets’ power play was 4-12 in the road trip (although 1 of these was the empty net goal against Columbus). The Jets had at least 1 power play goal in each game last week.
Boston – 2-1 loss in overtime. Michael Hutchinson was brilliant, making many spectacular saves. Although the shots were roughly even for the game, it was the Bruins who controlled much of the play in the third period. Hutchinson limited the damage to 1 Bruin goal in the third period, and the overtime marker. Both goalies were superb (Rask for Boston), as the Jets were the better team earlier in the game. Overall, the Jets deserved 1 point for the tie through regulation time, but “Clutchinson” was a big factor. Once again, the Jets opened the scoring on the power play, as Dustin Byfuglien elected to rapidly fire a wrist shot at the net, scoring through traffic (perhaps a sign of things to come?). The Jets had a 4 minute power play late in the game, but failed to convert.
Anytime you can “steal” a point in Boston, get out of town quickly, before they recheck the scoresheet. As the Irish blessing says, “May you be half an hour in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead!”