What can I say? You could tell it was a pre-season game, but the good guys come out ahead 2-1. We’ll take the Win*.
*Since Joe Morrow’s game winning goal would have been called back in the regular season it feels a little dodgy, but them’s the breaks.
The first period was the predictable 1st-game-back scrambled mess, highlighted by the Jets taking an early too many men penalty. Nothing much happened during special teams play despite Nik Ehlers drawing two back-to-back penalties, but hey – these units have never worked together before. I’m not sure how Seth Griffiths drew the bumper spot on the 1st PP unit, but he did come close to breaking the game open with a deflection off a point shot, so good on him. Instead, the first goal of 2018 went to Marko Dano (one of my personal favourites), after Niku cleaned up a weak clearing attempt from the Wild and sprang (sprung? No, sprang.) Lemieux for a nice-looking drive to the net. The wide-open Dano tapped in the loose puck for a gimme, but that kid is has always had a knack for scoring in tight. Through 20, the Lemieux-Petan-Dano line looked the most consistent on the Jets side, winning face-offs, completing passes, and otherwise looking like they came to play. unfortunately, the Ehlers-Little-Laine line struggled to exit the D-zone, which would become a theme throughout the game. This was a recurring issue with this line last season, and I had hoped to see them clean it up a bit, but I’m trying not to judge them too harshly on one harmless exhibition game.
The second period was fairly uneventful. The Vesalainen-Roslovic-Perreault line was darned good on the forecheck throughout. Young Mr. Vaseline put on a clinic on retrieving the puck. Putting on my prediction hat, I’d go so far as to say that his aggressive puck battling skills will punch his ticket to the Big Leagues, though I would like to see him shoot the puck a little more in the days to come. The defencemen were fairly quiet I thought, but Logan Stanley kept his cool during a couple of 1-on-1s, and noted offensive juggernaut Ben Chiarot seemed to be eager to impress, leading rushes and shooting the puck more than I think I’ve ever seen from him. For me, however, the real standout of the 2nd period was Jets newcomer Laurent Brossoit who held the Wild scoreless through 40, seemingly without breaking a sweat. Calm, cool, and collected, he was square to the puck and tracked it well. Positively Hellebuyck-ian, which bodes well for the coming season.
I’ll be honest, the third period was a bit of a gong show. With Matt Hendricks – Matt Freakin’ Hendricks – sneaking away from coverage and taking advantage of some net-front confusion to pop one in. I don’t lay this goal at Brossoit’s feet, and he certainly didn’t let it get to him, remaining solid throughout. Roslovic nearly got one back on a flukey two-on-1 with Vesalainen, when his saucer deflected off the defender and through Andrew Hammond’s five hole. Unfortunately for Roscoe, but lucky for that Wild defender, the net came off and the play was waved off. Looked good to me, though, especially compared to the on that counted. On a rare instance where the Little line managed to transition play from their end and into the Wild’s, Patrik Laine fed Joe Morrow for a beauty of a shot that ricocheted off the far post, along the goal-line, and off the near post and out, but was called a goal on the ice. Without video review in the pre-season, however, the goal counted, and I’m sure there will be some grumbling about it. Good thing the teams meet again on Sept. 26th, they can settle the matter then.