WINNIPEG — This was a turning of the tables the Winnipeg Jets would favor to keep away from.
There have been many nights over the previous a number of seasons when the Jets leaned closely on workhorse goalie Connor Hellebuyck to steal a sport.
However because the curtain raised on the Jets 2021-22 season, it was John Gibson who was the showstopper for the Anaheim Geese.
Gibson received the head-to-head showdown between the 2 males vying for the beginning job for Staff USA on the upcoming Olympics, ending with 33 saves because the Jets dropped a 4-1 resolution on Wednesday evening on the Honda Heart.
“He made some good saves, certain. However we’ve bought some good shooters on our crew,” Jets winger Kyle Connor informed reporters in California after the sport. “We simply didn’t get the suitable appears to be like. He made some nice saves on the primary energy play however that’s by no means our mindset, ‘Oh, this man’s on tonight.’ We’re nonetheless placing pucks [on the net] the identical method. We’re not altering our sport due to the goaltender.”
The Jets proceed this three-game street journey on Saturday evening in opposition to the San Jose Sharks.
It’s necessary to recollect that is merely one in all 82 video games, but it surely’s honest to say the Jets have some sharpening as much as do — particularly in relation to puck administration and particular groups.
Whereas incomes the primary 4 energy performs of the sport, the Jets have been capable of generate loads of high quality scoring probabilities and construct a major edge in pictures on aim (15-6).
However Gibson prevented the Jets from constructing any early momentum and stored his crew within the sport till they may discover their skating legs, making a number of acrobatic saves.
That lack of ability to ship on the facility play proved expensive and it was solely a matter of time earlier than the calls started to even out and the Jets’ penalty kill was put to work.
“There have been a variety of good issues in that sport for us. Quite a bit to construct off of and that’s what it’s all about right now of the 12 months,” stated Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey, who generated a number of Grade A scoring probabilities within the contest. “It’s Recreation 1 and also you don’t make the playoffs or obtain something. Clearly, you wish to win however there have been a variety of good issues there for us and a few issues that we are able to clear up and perform a little bit higher at.”
All through coaching camp, the Jets talked about how the enhancements to the defence corps might result in spending much less time within the D-zone and finally assist make life just a little simpler on Hellebuyck by limiting the shot quantity and shot high quality.
This primary check was considerably profitable on that entrance, because the Jets allowed solely 22 pictures on aim and restricted the variety of high-danger scoring probabilities in opposition to.
Does that imply it might take some getting used to for Hellebuyck, who typically thrives on being busy?
“I don’t assume so. Whether it is, it’s a very good adjustment for quantity and simply the wear and tear and tear on the physique,” stated Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “It’s one sport. We’ll get into nights on back-to-backs and on journey that he’s going to get plenty of motion and many work. We gave up 12 even-strength pictures and never a variety of makes an attempt in opposition to us. He’ll get used to it.”
Particular groups performed a serious function within the consequence, because the Jets’ energy play completed the night zero-for-five with the man-advantage, whereas the Geese scored twice in 5 alternatives.
“You don’t wish to see it getting static, the place you’re not getting alternatives,” stated Morrissey. “One of many good issues to begin with is pictures and we had a variety of pictures, particularly on these early energy performs. We had some beauty. They simply didn’t go in for us.”
With Mark Scheifele sitting out the fourth and last sport of his suspension for his hit on Montreal Canadiens ahead Jake Evans, one other theme was prevalent.
As was the case within the qualifying spherical sequence of 2020 and the four-game sweep by the hands of these Canadiens, the Jets had hassle scoring with out Scheifele within the lineup, with Connor delivering the lone aim for Winnipeg on Wednesday evening.
With seven of eight video games out of the gate in opposition to Pacific Division opponents (with none in opposition to the Vegas Golden Knights or Edmonton Oilers), there was a perception the Jets would possibly be capable to reap the benefits of a gentle schedule.
However as Maurice cautioned earlier this week, there aren’t any free spots on the bingo card — particularly within the early levels of the season after not seeing many opponents for an prolonged time period.
Lengthy earlier than the puck was dropped in southern California, veteran ahead Paul Stastny had a agency grasp on what his crew was making an attempt to do in beginning to lay the groundwork on that all-important basis.
“You’re simply constructing one thing,” Stastny informed reporters in Anaheim after the morning skate. “However yearly you understand that what you probably did the 12 months earlier than or what you’ve executed up to now doesn’t actually matter. Everybody has expectations to make the playoffs, everybody has bought hopes and aspirations to win the Cup.
“There are 20 groups that most likely have a legit likelihood — not a legit likelihood however might win, with the goaltending, with the famous person gamers. The way in which the sport is now, it’s so evenly unfold out. So, you understand that every one of that hype and all of that stuff you might need learn over the summer season, it doesn’t matter. Everyone seems to be in the identical boat proper now and the work sort of begins and the joy begins.”
And now that the primary sport is within the books, the Jets will flip their consideration to fine-tuning.