By: Jack Fenty
After a huge 5-0 win Friday night over the Minnesota Wild the Winnipeg Jets are moving on to the next round.
The Jets are one of those teams that does not get talked about enough throughout the national hockey league. In the regular season the Jets deserved more respect than they got since they finished second in the entire league in the standings, only three points behind the President Trophy winners, the Nashville Predators. Also, the Jets had the best home record in the league, with a record of 32-7-2. The Jets were second in the league in goals for showing that they have a potent offense. Lastly, their backup goalie going into the season, Connor Hellebuyck, had a breakout season with 44 wins, the most ever by a United States born goalie. Still, fans around the league did not appreciate the Winnipeg Jets team. So, what has to happen to get the league to take notice?
The Jets faced off against the Minnesota Wild. No doubt the Jets were the favorite to win the series, but few people expected the Jets to win in just 5 games. In the first game of the series the Jets won 3-2, we got to see Patrick Laine score his first ever playoff goal and a beautiful celly that came after it. Also, players such as Scheifele, Wheeler, and Ehlers stepped up big time to just barely beat the Wild in a tightknit game. Due to the close score line and solid play of the Wild many people questioned if the Jets would even win this series now. The second game of the series the Jets won 4-1, the team played solid all around but most importantly they did not let the Wild get many scoring opportunities. The only goal coming from Zach Parise in the last minute of the game. Game 3 the Wild bounced back big time, with an impressive 6-2 win at home to make the series 2-1. Game 4 the Jets won 2-0 making it a 3-1 series in the Jets favor. In game 5 the Jets came roaring out of the gates scoring 4 goals in the first period and the final score being 5-0. Congratulations to Winnipeg for their first ever playoff series win. The Jets fans truly do deserve, the Winnipeg Whiteout is one of the best home crowds in the league…and dare I say it is the best.
“We want Nashville!” was the chant late in the third period from the fired-up home crowd, the Jets will (Most Likely) now take on the best team during the regular season, the Nashville Predators in the second round. I am here to tell you that the Winnipeg Jets have a great chance to beat the Preds in that series. Admittingly, I did not watch a lot of Jets games during the regular season, but I watched all five of their games in the first round and man did they look good. This team is fast, physical, and deep, three keys to being successful in the Stanley Cup playoffs. One of the players who stood out to me in this series was Patrick Laine, he is known for his Ovechkin like shot and scoring but sheesh is there a lot more to his game than just that. Laine used his big frame to box out defenders and threw some big hits also in the series. The first line of Wheeler-Scheifele-Connor is awesome and will match up well with any line Nashville throws at them. The second line of Ehlers-Statsny-Laine is a well-balanced line with both skill in Laine, solid defensive play in Stastny, and playmaking ability in Ehlers. Something else I realized with this team was how good their bottom two lines are, both the third and fourth lines create so much energy with a hard forecheck and that creates sustained offensive pressure. This will be key to beating Nashville, the Jets must make their defense uncomfortable. As for the defense, Nashville has a better defense than the Jets and Tyler Myers will not be at 100 percent most likely come game 1.
It is not going to be easy for Winnipeg, but I believe there is a good chance that the Jets can beat the Predators. At the least this series will be the top match-up in the second round. Buckle up as we take off! GO JETS GO!
*The Predators currently lead the Avalanche 3-2 in their series.
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