by Scott Swail
The Jets were given a harsh lesson in upper echelon hockey play last night in Denver. If anyone was wondering, the Colorado Avalanche are the real thing. I went into the game hoping the Jets could keep up with the Avs, but the evidence clearly shows how good that team is. Looking at this game beforehand, a blowout was possible given the seasons that both the Jets and Avs have had thus far. Colorado came into the game 8-1-1 in the last 10 while the Jets, although on a three-game streak, have struggled. I said days ago that the first three games under Lowry were only precursor to tonight’s game against a “real” team. This game showed how good Colorado is and how far the Jets need to go to be a contender. Here are some thoughts.
- First, this was actually a better game for the Jets than the score showed. They kept up with Colorado for much of the game, especially for the first period and into the second. But… the…
- Dubois’ penalty derailed the Jets early in the second. Although down 1-0, the Jets were stride-for-stride with Colorado. That penalty took any margin of error out of the tilt.
- Colorado is good enough to turn any mistake by the opposition into a scoring opportunity. The Jets made little mistakes that the Avs took complete advantage of in quick fashion. The difference between a great team and a good team is taking advantage of these opportunities. Colorado did; Winnipeg did not. The Jets continue to shoot wide and from outside, while 5 of 7 Colorado’s goals came from rebounds directly in front of Hellebuyck. The other two goals were from the slot. The Avalanche basically did what Lowry is harping on the Jets to do: get in front of the net for rebounds.
- Case in point was a left side rush and shot from Josh Morrissey, who shot 18” wide to the right of the net with no Jet available for a deflection. He just shot wide, which is common for Winnipeg.
- The Jets’ puck movement was better. Passing was better. Movement was better. They just weren’t good enough last night. Scheifele looks like his old self.
- Perfetti is the real deal. He needs to stay up and in the lineup. He was excellent last night in the little opportunity he was given (10:11) and can easily take a roster spot. He is far too good to be on the bench or even on the fourth line. As good as advertised. Maybe better at the NHL speed.
- Against most teams, the Jets win this game 4-out-of-5 times. Against top-tier teams, they lose 4-out-of-5 games.
- MacKinnon is a lot better than I ever gave him credit for. Wow. A big five-pointer last night. And Landeskog with a hat trick. A second wow. That is a very talented and fast team.
- The Power Play under Lowry is starting to score but was 1 for 5 last night. Meanwhile, Colorado was 3 for 4. The Jets need to be better on the PP and much better on the PK.
The Jets have a week to think about what it will take to get to the next tier. Last night’s game was a clear indicator they have a long way to go, but I’ll take that Winnipeg team compared to the earlier version of it. This week off will give them the time to continue to drill down on systems play, and this game should give them a good reflection of where they are and what it takes to beat the best.
Not the worst loss I’ve seen a team have, even if the score suggests otherwise. Let’s see if the Jets can use this as a motivational tool going forward.