EXHIBITION WIN OVER VANCOUVER WAS NEEDED
It was important that the Winnipeg Jets played their exhibition game on Wednesday night ahead of this evening's opening game of the Qualifying Round against the Calgary Flames. The team needed to get the compete level up ahead of the playoffs after the NHL shutdown for four and a half months due to the pandemic.
"I thought it was a really good tune up because Vancouver played hard, they came hard," said head coach Paul Maurice.
"An awful lot of chipped pucks to forecheck and a lot of speed. I'm a (Canucks head coach) Travis Green fan in terms with what he has done with that team. I'm happy we got this matchup, it's what we needed."
HAVE TO BRING IT EARLY
With this is a best-of-five affair, the idea of falling behind in the series at any point becomes a much bigger mountain to climb. Andrew Copp said on Tuesday there is no way that the Jets will be treating tonight's game as the first game of the regular season.
"It's Game 1 of the playoffs. If we're not ready to go and we haven't done the right things to prepare, we could find ourselves down one or two games very quickly and playing three (games) in four (days) to start the playoffs, it's definitely a sprint right off the bat here," Copp said.
It appears the Jets have three solid defence pairings with the performance of Nathan Beaulieu and Tucker Poolman on Wednesday night against the Canucks. Beaulieu had a huge hit in the opening period and added an assist, while Poolman was the team's best player outside of Connor Hellebuyck in the first. Poolman had the Jets opening goal, four shots on goal and a hit vs. Vancouver.
It took the Jets awhile to get their legs underneath them which is understandable considering they had such a long time away from playing an actual game. Obviously many things improved as the game wore on but the power play was far from its usual effectiveness against Vancouver going 0-2 and generating just three shots on goal. Clearly, the Jets will need their power play to move the puck well against a Flames penalty kill that ranked eighth in the NHL this season.
TKACHUK WILL BE A CHALLENGE
The son of Jets 1.0 legend Keith Tkachuk, Matthew will be a real handful for the Jets in this series. Josh Morrissey and his defence partner Dylan DeMelo expect to see a lot of the Flames forward over the next week. Tkachuk has 235 points in 293 games since being drafted sixth overall by Calgary back in 2016.
"Try to have a good stick on him cause he's good around the net," said Morrissey of his plans to deal with Tkachuk.
"Try to take away his time and space as well. He can make plays when he has space. Sort of the theme for the rest of their team."