WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets felt comfortable participating in one-shot hockey games in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The truth of the matter is, they really had no choice, with all four games against the Edmonton Oilers going to the end and three requiring overtime, including a deciding factor that required nearly six periods before a winner could be determined.
Now, the biggest challenge the Jets face in trailing the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in the best-of-seven series for the North Division crown is that they should feel a little more comfortable being really uncomfortable.
As the Jets prepare for Game 3 on Sunday at the Bell Center, they have a clear picture of what their opponent has brought to the table and exactly what they must try and do to counter what has given the Canadiens an advantage. remarkable. so far.
“We haven’t generated the frankness that we would like in this series,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “So a 1-0 game is a place where we have to feel really comfortable.”
Broadcast all Stanley Cup Playoff games live, with no blackouts. Plus, get the NHL, Free Agency, Blue Jays and MLB Draft, NBA Playoff matchups and more.
The Jets have only managed to score three goals in two games, with only one of them coming hard on a shot from defender Derek Forbort’s high slot.
Adam Lowry scored with a beautiful backhand deke while short-staffed, while Kyle Connor shot home a timeout for an extra hitter marker late in Game 1.
Finding a way to generate more quality opportunities with uniform force, and power play, is a top priority for airplanes.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been listening to Maurice talk about how post-rush scoring opportunities would run out when the stakes went up.
That claim has been successful, especially against a Canadiens team that have played a suffocating type of hockey and haven’t been behind in a game for a single second as they put together a five-game winning streak after falling behind 3-1 in the opening. . Round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Offense was always going to be tough to come by with Paul Stastny missing those first two games and front-line center Mark Scheifele earning a four-game suspension for charging for his hit on Jake Evans late in Game 1.
Stastny flew to Montreal with his teammates and has a tendency to return to the lineup, probably between Andrew Copp and Nikolaj Ehlers.
With Scheifele and Dylan DeMelo (soft tissue injury) unavailable, it was always going to take cumulative effort, and that’s still the case.
It’s not that a singular player needs to step up in Scheifele’s absence, but rather that the Jets’ best players must shoot full blast, even if unsung heroes are always welcome.
Another player who could have an impact with improved liability is Pierre-Luc Dubois, whose tumultuous season has been well documented since arriving in a highly successful trade for Patrik Laine.
It’s not about exploring the potential for buyer’s remorse or revisionist history.
The Jets still strongly believe in Dubois’ ability to make a difference, even if point production has been difficult to come by.
Dubois has played 22 games since scoring two goals against the Ottawa Senators on April 5, recording seven assists during that span.
He has been promoted to the top line of the Jets, giving Dubois a great opportunity to make his mark in this series against the team he grew up for.
Dubois has been consistent in his discussions with the media, constantly saying that there is another level he would like his game to reach.
That trend continued on Saturday and he reiterated that his confidence level has not been affected, despite dealing with the many challenges this season, ranging from a contract dispute, a 14-day quarantine and a couple of injuries.
“To be honest, I don’t see him as a replacement for Mark,” Dubois said. “He is a fantastic player, he is his own player. I am my own player. If I try to play like him, I am not helping my team, I am not helping my teammates. I just see it as doing what I do best, doing what I can to help this team win. It’s been a long season, it’s been a season of ups and downs, but I think I work hard so that confidence doesn’t go down even if you’re not scoring or doing everything offensive you want. They are building blocks here and there, not just the results, but also the work that goes into it.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself, but at the same time I know when to relax and just go play. There is nothing you can do to control the environment or circumstances. All you can do is try to bring your best game to the table. “
When Dubois is asked what he’s doing right when he’s in his prime, it is clear that he knows what is required of him.
“A big part of my game is just skating, getting my legs to work,” Dubois said. “In the postseason, you don’t have that much space, you don’t have that much time and space. For me, it’s just getting into my game of moving, creating space for my wingers, creating space for defenses, going to the net, trying to attract guys to me and giving time and space for everyone who is with me.
“I don’t like putting numbers on anything, but it is a process. Confidence comes from putting in the effort and knowing that it doesn’t depend on luck or anything like that. If you push yourself, practice, and watch the tape and pay attention to detail, your confidence can increase just because of that. Because you know that you are ready for any moment. “
Do you think you know how this year’s playoffs will play out? Before each round, from Round 1 to the Stanley Cup Final, predict the winners and the number of games in each series and answer some supporting questions.
The moment of truth has come for jets.
With a win on Sunday, the Jets can return to this series, especially with Game 4 on Monday night.
With another loss, the Jets would be on the brink of elimination for the first time in the postseason.
Before the Oilers sweep, the Jets endured a seven-game losing streak and dropped nine of the last 12 games of the regular season, so it’s not like they have to search long and hard for a formula to try and recover.
“With the experience we have in this group, we feel comfortable coming in and playing on the road,” Lowry said. “It is the belief in our group. We have been a pretty solid road team this year. Look at the template of the game (Friday) night, the kind of success we had in the first round against Edmonton on the road, not missing a lot of opportunities, plugging the neutral zone and things like that.
“We have the depth. They have the last change, so they will be able to get their matches, but we have the players who will be able to play against their best guys, against their best partners. To be successful, it is important that we get off to a good start and that is what we seek to do. “