The Jets, the win and that Save!
I'm not sure what brings out the best and worst of the Jets at any given point in the season let alone a game. Last night, was one of those games where we saw the good and bad of the team. The first period was far from ideal. The Jets were sloppy with passes and zone exits were a challenge as well as zone entries. No one would be faulted if they thought the Oilers, after their recent trades, were playing with desperation and adherence to Ken Hitchcock's wishes.
It was not to last although that might not be because the Jets decided to play better, the Oilers might be that bad. They were decent enough to hold the Jets vaunted power play to zero goals and few chances but not for the entire game. Basically after the third meeting between these two teams it's pretty obvious if your name is not McDavid, Draisaitl, or Nugent-Hopkins there's not much going on. There's no Tanev or Lemieux to play hero for you and that last night was the difference between these two teams. Oh and a Hellebuyck save.
Brendan Lemieux can have all sorts of criticism and so can head coach Paul Maurice for how he uses him but every now and then a blind squirrel finds a nut- last night Lemieux found two. That's not to say he's a blind squirrel but that he was lucky and more often than not the Jets have had bad luck as opposed to good luck when it comes to puck luck. Good for Lemieux but don't expect it to be some sort of breakout moment for him- remember Tanev had a hat trick last year and it did not change his trajectory.
Ted Wyman had some good stuff from Maurice on Brendan Lemieux:
Aside from the depth scoring and a rare Blake Wheeler wrist shot bullet the real story was Connor Hellebuyck making a save that very well may have saved the game.
That might be the first time this season the Jets number one goalie has made a save that has determined a game in regulation time. It was good and the look of Draisaitl after was more than enough to realize just how big a moment it was.
The other thing that happened was a young fan going viral as he was unknowingly right in the camera frame during a melee behind the net.
That kid is a beauty.
So with that the 2018 year comes to a close and the Jets win on the road to bust a two-game losing streak. Not the easy the way but they did it.
This time last year the Jets were first in the central and second in the west with a 23-11-6 record for 52 points in 40 games. This year they are 1st in the central and first in the west with a 25-12-2 record for 52 points in 39 games. They are tied with Calgary in points but ahead due to less game played.
They are a +23 in goal differential this year and were +24 this time last year. Away from Bell MTS Centre they are 12-6-0 while last year they were 9-8-5.
The Jets have also only allowed one more goal than last year too and scored the exact same amount.
Last year they were: 50.65 CF% 51.66% xGF% shooting 8.6% and a .923 save percent and a 100.92 PDO all at 5vs5
This year they are: 50.88 CF% 49.47 xGF% shooting 7.98% and a .919 save percent and a 99.86 PDO all at 5vs5
With that the team enters the new year without a top defenseman and spiritual leader in Dustin Byfuglien and a potential superstar in Patrik Laine fighting the game a bit as he tries to find space to unload his shot. The thing is, as Russ Cohen like to say, this team is good but it's not as good as everyone remembers it from the end of last year and through the post season. Yet they win are in the same spot and are in position to make a move or two come the trade deadline should they want to.
We all know the Hockey News predicted them as the 2019 Stanley Cup champions and it may not feel like they will be but the numbers say they can be contenders and are tracking in the right direction. There's room for improvement and now we will see if they can.