Sandwiched in-between betting promos and ironically, financial planning endorsements, Game 1 between the Jets and the Golden Knights is in the books. The Jets browbeat their way to victory to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Good things come in 3’s, so here are 3 takeaways from the Jets’ first playoff victory in nearly two years:
1. Let’s address the elephant in the room. Ryan Hartman erases Nik Ehlers on a non-hockey play and is suspended for one game. A meaningless regular season matchup was his penance, only to return and play a pivotal role in the Wild’s Game 1 win over the Dallas Stars. Conversely, Ehlers is out indefinitely, leaving the Jets’ forward core shorthanded.
Questionable play and the ensuing disciplinary ambiguity is part of the game – but that is of little comfort when your team is on the losing end of karmic happenstance. I posit that Hartman’s hit was no less egregious than Schefiele’s hit that cost him 4 games in the 2021 playoffs. Lady Luck taketh, and then apparently taketh some more.
Winnipeg Jets take Game 1 in Stanley Cup Playoffs
And yet, the Jets prevailed. The crowd was subdued by Vegas standards, and at times appeared to be politely waiting for an Osmond concert. Even without Ehlers, the Jets neutralized the Vegas faithful by establishing puck control and dominating the first period.
2. Pierre-Luc Dubois had himself a hockey game. Summoning his inner-Byfuglien, PLD was a menace whose game seems built in a lab for playoff hockey. The goal and assist were almost secondary to his physical presence and outsized impact. The Connor-PLD-Scheifele line was buzzing and ended the night with 18 On-Ice Shot Attempts.
A look at HockeyStatCard’s nightly game summary shows just how impressive PLD was in this game:
Surpassed statistically only by the spritely Blake Wheeler, PLD looked like his first-half self and set the tone for the Winnipeg Jets. If he can maintain this level of play, the Jets are going to be difficult to beat.
3. A continued bane of my existence is the omnipresent “shoot the puck” crowd sound at every Jets home game. But the Jets smartly shot the puck, testing the unproven Broissoit. Winnipeg was able to find holes in Vegas’ zone defense to win the Expected Goals battle 3.7 to 2.
Credit to Coach Bones, as the Jets played a smart and simple offensive game plan. Defensively as well, the Jets limited second-chance opportunities, and avoided turnovers. Restricting your #1 seeded opponent to 17 shots on net on the road is a recipe for success, and the Jets were cooking. In Vegas, there is a sweet spot between “Fun” and “Good”, and Winnipeg found it:
It is the smallest of sample sizes, but the Jets appeared battle-tested for playoff hockey. Whether it was Morgan Barron losing a pint and returning with the birdcage, or Kyle Connor mucking it up with Mark Stone – the Jets sent a clear message to start this series.
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Just like in blackjack, the Jets need to double down on this effort. Coming out a winner in Vegas requires discipline, savvy, and a little help from Lady Luck. Let’s hope the Jets have a little of each for Game 2.