Jets defeat Wild 2-1
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/09/2014 (3107 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Nobody paints a Picasso in the National Hockey League preseason.
Streaks of colour get scribbled outside the lines, canvasses get ripped up or painted over completely and everybody — and we mean everybody — prays for the tedium to be mercifully fast-forwarded to the real games.
That said, winning — even when it doesn’t officially matter — can become contagious and the Winnipeg Jets have to hope their 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild Monday night at the MTS Centre in their pre-season debut did offer up some encouraging signs for the home side.
“I saw enough. I expected us to drag it around a little bit and I thought we did,” said Jets’ coach Paul Maurice. “But I also saw enough good things, positives.
“I know… first exhibition game. It’s kind of hard to get excited about the results of an exhibition game.”
The performance was just the first of the seven-game preseason schedule. And when asked if he learned anything about his squad — knowing full well a whole pile of talent was left out of the lineup by both sides — Maurice was quick to throw up the yellow caution flag.
“It’s too small a sample to say anything you saw there is going to be consistent for the whole year,” he said. “We saw what we expected. I thought they played hard. Early on you’re never going to be aggressive as you want your team to be and you really have to have your reads down and that comes with repetition in practice.
“We were a little fatigued out there, we haven’t been scrimmaging, so some of the sharpness wasn’t there. But the positioning was still pretty good. The guys that played here last year got to the right spots, got a stick on the puck and did some good things.
“It was pretty much what we expected.”
THE YOUNG GUNS
None of the Jets’ young prospects — Nik Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Adam Lowry and Nic Petan — picked up a point, although Lowry was named one of the game’s stars. Each had their moments, but Lowry — in just under 17 minutes of work — seemed to best display his skill set with five hits and an attention to detail in the defensive zone.
“All of them as a group showed at times what they do for a living and what they’re good at,” said Maurice. “There’s positive in that. The key for these guys now is to have a little bit of consistency and see a comfort level in every game that they play — and they’ll play a lot of exhibition games.
“We’ll get our system down a little more each day and then we’ll look a little harder at their positioning to see what it is that they do well. Everybody has to do something to be in this league. You could see it tonight, they all had their moments where you saw their speed, or their play-making ability… we’d just like to see a little bit more of it.”
3 RANDOM THOUGHTS
❚An occasionally-forgotten aspect of the Mathieu Perreault addition: Not only is the 26-year-old vet solid in the face-off circle — he won 55 per cent of his draws (6 of 11) against the Wild (Bryan Little won 14 of his 18 draws, to lead the Jets) — he looks very comfy working the half-wall on the power-play.
Ditto for Petan, who also got some minutes with the man advantage Monday. Petan has been prolific on the power-play in junior with the Portland Winterhawks: last year he had 12 goals and a league-leading 36 assists on the PP — in just 63 games — en route to a 113-point season.
❚ Some things never get old about game night in downtown Winnipeg: the “True North” shout-out and cheer for veteran Len ‘Croppy’ Kropioski during the national anthem; the “Il-yaaaa” chant whenever Ilya Bryzgalov is in the opposition crease; seeing Dancing Gabe play every instrument in his air band and fans still singing along to Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “Good Ol’ Hockey Game,” a tune which debuted in 1973.
❚ Maurice juggled his lines a bit in the third, especially with all the power-play time through 40 minutes, and it meant Michael Frolik was reunited with Little and Andrew Ladd, a combination that led to the Jets’ second goal.
It also led to a situation that saw Petan centering Ehlers and Lowry — with Josh Morrissey on the blue-line — which presented an intriguing possible snapshot of the Jets’ future.
THE MAN IN THE PETRI DISH
No one is under the microscope more than Ondrej Pavelec, The big Czech netminder kicked out all 15 of the shots he faced before giving way to Michael Hutchinson.
But that does little to answer any questions about his ability to be a legit No. 1 puck stopper than keep the howling wolves at bay for a night. Still, there could have been worse outcomes.
“It was important to stay focused because it’s a really hard thing to do after the summer,” said Pavelec. “A good start, but tomorrow is another day. It’s only one exhibition game.”