The Winnipeg Jets closed out a three-game road trip against the Calgary Flames with a dominant 5-1 victory on Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Winnipeg was looking to avenge a loss to the Flames on Saturday night, where a third period let down by the Jets resulted in a 4-2 loss. Early on Monday night it looked like the trend from Saturday might carry over as the Flames jumped out to a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game.
From that point on it was all Jets as they responded with five unanswered goals and were once again supported by excellent goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck.
With the win, the Winnipeg Jets moved into sole possession of second place in the North Division, one point behind the division leading Maple Leafs.
Here are three talking points from yesterday’s game:
3. Line Juggling Paid Off
Paul Maurice surprised fans when he switched Pierre Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele on their lines. Playing with two players with the speed and ability to drive play that Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor have allowed Scheifele to concentrate on finding space on the ice for scoring chances.
The result was two goals by Scheifele, both set up by amazing plays by Nikolaj Ehlers who ended up with three assists on the evening. Post game Paul Maurice attributed the reason for change as an opportunity for a different look and to have Dubois play with Wheeler.
The line of Dubois – Wheeler – Stastny did not generate as many scoring chances but did chip in the fifth goal for the Jets on a snipe from Dubois in the slot. I liked what I saw of this line combination as I think that Wheeler and Stastny provide more of a straight-line, heavy, fast game that fits Dubois better than the free-wheeling styles of Ehlers and Connor.
2. The Jets Rebound Again
One of the most impressive statistics about the Jets this season is that they have only lost consecutive games once this season. Paul Maurice indicated post game that despite being outplayed in the loss on Saturday, the team did not get down, and has the intelligence and maturity to rebound from any losses.
This is an extremely important attribute to have for any championship contending team. On the road to the Stanley Cup, there will be games where you are outplayed or even lose badly. Championship teams have the ability to put those types of games behind them and focus on the next game.
So far, the Jets this season have demonstrated that ability.
1. The Winnipeg Jets Can Start Thinking About the Playoffs
Any coach or player will tell you that their focus is always on the next game and next opponent. That is the correct perspective to take as you never want to look past any opponents, particularly in a division like the North.
However, with the victory last night the Jets have an 11-point cushion on both the Flames and Canucks in the playoff race, with one game in hand. It is still too early to declare the Jets a lock for a playoff position, but there is starting to be some separation in the North division standings.
The Canucks have lost three in a row, and the effect of new head coach Darryl Sutter seems to be fading for the Flames. It is starting to look like the Flames, Canucks, and Senators are going to end up on the outside of the playoff race in the North division.
The order of the top four in the division will likely go down to the last regular season games. However, for now I would suggest that the Jets players and coaches start preparing themselves mentally for what will hopefully be a long playoff run.
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*All Stats Provided by the NHL*