As a result, the Winnipeg Jets remain in an unenviable position with a 0-2-1 record as they host the Anaheim Ducks for Thursday’s home opener.
The last point lost came on Tuesday night, as the Jets built a two-goal cushion in the third period and appeared to move away from the Minnesota Wild in what was a heated Central Division affair – only to give up three goals without answer for falling 6-5 in overtime.
On a night when the Jets seemed to be taking a big step towards correcting a power play that opened the season 0-for-8 and allowed a short-handed goal by getting a 2-for-6, the disadvantage digital has had another blow.
By allowing three goals on five occasions – including game-winner Joel Eriksson Ek to complete his first career hat trick in a 4-on-3 power play in overtime, moments after Logan Stanley nearly ended the 2-on-1 rush match with Adam Lowry – the Jets are now operating at an abysmal 53 percent (8-for-15) efficiency rate at reduced strength.
It’s almost impossible to survive, even though there is plenty of time to sort things out.
Despite all the talk about staff improvements and a commitment to making life easier for goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets haven’t been good enough defensively so far.
Not even close.
It’s far too early to suggest things will continue down this path, but after allowing 14 goals in three games, it’s clear the Jets need to clean up this area.
It is not about pointing the finger at Hellebuyck either.
While he clearly hasn’t made the start he wanted, there’s no indication he’ll be close to a 4.66 goals-against average or 0.856 save percentage in any span. prolonged.
Hellebuyck finding his best form would fall low on the Jets’ list of concerns right now, but when he’s playing well, his teammates usually follow suit.
Of course, there have been a few goals that Hellebuyck would like to recover – but he believes he can stop every shot he faces – that’s part of what made him successful.
But it’s not like the Jets have been sunk by a number of smooth goals. It just hasn’t happened.
Hellebuyck didn’t seem completely comfortable, but it’s hard to feel comfortable considering the amount of traffic around his fold.
There were a few big saves, like the one he made with his left pad on Jonas Brodin towards the end of the second period and that’s a sign that he’s locking himself up.
“Yeah, he made some great saves,” Connor told reporters in Minnesota after the game. “Bad rebounds, a couple I’m sure they want to come back. He’s tough on himself, I know. He’s a competitor, he wants to strive to be the best, just like a lot of the guys in this room. So, I thought he was awesome. He stopped those he needed to stop.
While the Jets were going to need some time to adjust to their stylistic changes, another thing they need to improve immediately is the number of unsuccessful clearance attempts that end up in the back of the net.
However, if Connor hadn’t entered the attacking zone a fraction of a second too early on goal in an empty Mark Scheifele net that was called off on a coach’s challenge for offside, today’s conversation hui would be markedly different.
Instead, he would focus on how the Jets fought hard and scored three times in the third period to break a deadlock with a Wild team that started the season 2-0.
How the Jets found a way to rally on a day when they learned Captain Blake Wheeler would be in quarantine for at least 10 days after being “symptomatically positive” for COVID-19.
And how those first two losses to California teams that are supposed to be rebuilding were just a small oversight on the radar.
Instead, the group must pick up the pieces and move on.
Not to deplore the point that was left on the table when the insurance marker was thrown out and things quickly worked out from there.
That sound you hear in the distance is not a wake-up call, it is not yet a fire that cannot be put out.
But there are emerging themes that need to be tackled head-on.
Teams with league aspirations don’t allow nearly five goals per game.
Considering the skill level of the Jets roster, scoring shouldn’t be a problem and with nine goals in three games, it hasn’t really been.
However, the Jets must find a way to have more nights when the first two lines roll at the same time.
Although Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for the second time in as many games, his shot came on the power play, as the three even-matched goals were produced by Connor’s new trio (two goals, one assist ), Andrew Copp (one goal, two assists) and Scheifele (two assists).
In what can only be described as an unexpected turn of events, Nikolaj Ehlers was held scoreless in three games, but it wasn’t for lack of scoring opportunities as he generated 11 shots on goal and 23 attempts. shooting.
When Ehlers goes for it, he often scores in clusters.
That’s not to say the top six need a revamp, the pieces are in place and now it’s their turn.
The open third line hearing with Adam Lowry remains very open and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Evgeny Svechnikov finds himself in this role on Thursday.
And if Cole Perfetti, who had a good scratch on Tuesday, is going to be posted to the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose at some point this week to get him more minutes for his development, don’t be surprised to see Dominic Toninato or David Gustafsson called back in an attempt to give a spark to the shorthanded and fourth line.
As for the defensive body, Jets head coach Paul Maurice is unlikely to make a habit of riding with 11 forwards and seven defensemen like he did on Tuesday, as it’s hard to find the pace for the one or the other group of positions most evenings.
It was not his preference and there is no indication that he will change tune now.
It’s too early to upset the pairings, so it will take a little more patience before making any drastic changes on this front.
There is no doubt that these early struggles present a difficult challenge for the Jets and the way they are reacting to that turbulence could tell us a lot about how this new season unfolds.
Dealing with these emotional fluctuations is part of the process.
“That’s the way hockey works,” said Scheifele. “It’s going to test you, it’s going to push you, but it’s about the guys who fight. We’re going to regroup and be better in the next game.