My friends, tonight’s game was tough to watch. Pre-season or no pre-season, the Jets were all over the place. Lots of work still to be done in the defensive zone. Let’s hope they can tighten things up with a few days’ practice, since that’s all they’ve got left.
On the positive side, I freaking love Matthieu Perreault’s game. You can tell that he and Laine are still feeling each other out as line-mates, but Frenchie’s forecheck and puck-retrieval go a long way towards covering Laine’s weaknesses. Give them a few games to build their chemistry, then sit back and watch the fireworks! My only question: is Bryan Little really the right Centre for that job? I would have liked to have seen Laine with another C at some point this pre-season. I don’t think he and Little have ever gelled, and at least to me it doesn’t look like they’re going to anytime soon.
One other thing I did like was that Maurice gave the younger players more of a chance on the PK than usual – I even saw Kyle Connor out there at one point! I’m into PK units with speed and skill, and I’d love to see guys like Connor and Roslovic develop that side of their game moving forward. Dano and Lemieux, too – the PK might be their best shot at a regular NHL spot, and my impression has always been that Maurice does not like to give guys like that much rein to show their stuff.
My biggest beef with this game in particular was how disorganized the play seemed. Breakouts and zone entries seemed to come more from lucky bounces than X’s and O’s, and the D zone coverage was a mess. All I saw tonight was scramble, scramble, scramble. The D pairs got crossed up and both took one man so often that I began to wonder whether they were being coached to do so. Now, I don’t think that’s genuinely the case, but I do think that outside of the Morrissey-Trouba pairing, nobody back there really had a clue what their partners were doing. That might be forgivable in the first pre-season game, but after six games, a bunch of practices, and with 3/4 of your starting lineup on the ice? I want and expect to see the frameworks in place. It shouldn’t really matter who your partner is, you really ought to know your defensive assignment. One of the Jets’ strengths last season was their ability to dictate where shots were coming from, and that was distinctly lacking tonight.