In two short games, the Winnipeg Jets have shown their fans both sides of the spectrum.
In Thursday’s season opener to remember, the Jets dominated the Arizona Coyotes, but Winnipeg will be wishing they could forget their 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
The high from Thursday’s victory over Arizona disappeared early, as just minutes into the game a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from the blue line found its way past Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Less than two minutes later, a slick Sharks breakout lead to a breakaway for speedy sophomore Tomas Hertl who made absolutely no mistake, burying his first of the year and putting the Sharks ahead 2-0.
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Throughout the first, it didn’t seem like the Sharks attack would slow. The Jets made it to intermission, and were almost into the second break when, with time winding down in the second period, the Sharks added another on a Patrick Marleau breakaway. With the score standing at 3-0 after two periods, the Jets should have counted themselves lucky to escape with even a chance at bringing it even.
As the third period began, the Jets had already been shorthanded four times. The Sharks power play fell flat on each attempt, failing to generate much of anything in the way of significant scoring chances. But come the third period, the Jets parade to the penalty box continued in a big way.
Shortly after the four-minute mark of the third, Jets defenceman Adam Pardy took a tripping call, which was followed up a Mark Stuart interference penalty, putting the Jets down two men. Though the Sharks power play was consistent in its futility, Winnipeg played with fire the entire third period, putting San Jose up the extra man twice more. More specifically, Dustin Byfuglien gifted the Sharks with back-to-back power plays.
Seconds after the Jets had killed the back half of the 5-on-3, Byfuglien took the first of two ill-advised penalties, a tripping call away from the play on the Sharks Adam Burish. Winnipeg was successful in the penalty kill, but moments after stepping out of the box, Byfuglien gave Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock a snow shower. Fed up with the actions of the big-bodied Jet, the crew refereeing the game handed Byfuglien two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct.
Without Byfuglien, the Jets were down a top-six forward in attempting to scratch and claw their way back from down three goals. For a list of reasons, including their unimaginable lack of discipline, Winnipeg didn’t come close to making this game closer than 3-0.
In a game that had very few bright spots, Mathieu Perrault again fared better than almost anyone on the Jets roster. Starting primarily in his own zone, Perrault was able to help the Jets generate shots toward the goal and limit the attempts from the Sharks. He finished the game as one of only eight players on the Jets roster to not be on the ice for a goal against.
After suffering what can only be described as a meltdown in a game that wasn’t entirely unwinnable, you would think it couldn’t get much worse for Jets fans. However, earlier in the day news came that Winnipeg will be without Evander Kane for at least a few weeks.
If the Jets are going to continue to be without Kane, they’re going to need more from their starts. The pairing of Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba was dominated while logging huge minutes, and if the Jets want to compete in an extremely tough division, they’re going to need to see more from their top pairing.
From Byfuglien, they’ll need more discipline, obviously, but that goes for the entire roster. Allowing eight power play opportunities to the Sharks had the Jets walking a razor-thin tightrope, and if they allow this many chances to the opposition on a consistent basis, they’re doomed to find themselves in the Western Conference basement sooner rather than later.
It’s two games, so no need for panicking. If the Jets continue to replicate their unspeakably underwhelming performance from tonight, however, it may be time to start penciling in Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid into next season’s lineup.