Heading in to Tuesday’s game there was no knowing how Jets rookies Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele would perform.
Head coach Claude Noel stressed to the media all training camp that he wanted to be intelligent with his expectations when it came to his two young guns, hoping they would just play their game.
Well, he got more than he wished for Tuesday night.
Trouba finished he game with over 25 minutes of ice-time, adding a goal and an assist for a plus-2. He showed the composure of a pro, joining the offensive rush on a number of occasions and proving he has what it takes to play in big situations at both ends of the ice.
“I thought Trouba was outstanding,” said Noel following the game. “For a young player in his first NHL game I thought he was really solid.”
Scheifele, 20, was also a major factor in the win. He opened the scoring for Winnipeg with a power play goal and at first glance appears to be the missing piece for the Jets second line.
He’s beginning to look comfortable, playing with confidence and making smart plays. He’s also proved to be tough, bouncing back from a hit-from-behind in the second period from Edmonton D-man Ladislav Smid.
“It feels great,” commented Scheifele on the Jets first win. “The boys showed a lot of character by coming back in that game and really push. It shows a lot about our team.”
Far too often last year the Jets were dependent on their top line for scoring.
Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler combined for 44 goals last season, more than one third of the team's total.
That certainly wasn’t a problem Tuesday night.
Michael Frolik’s two goals on the third line — including the game winner — was a welcome surprise for a Jets club that in past seasons had seen very little from their depth forwards.
“I wanted to prove that I can still be that offensive guy and still put some points on the board,” said Frolik. “It doesn’t matter who scores the goals but we came up with the win and that’s the most important thing.”
A pass for Pav
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec was far from outstanding in a 5-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night but he came up big when it mattered.
“I thought Pavelec made some big saves at key times when he had to,” said head coach Claude Noel. “These are the types of games we need from Pavs.
“When he can help your team at moments, and when the game’s on the line, I thought he was huge.”
Pavelec finished the game with 34 saves and a .895 save percentage in the win. He remains suspect on the glove side, allowing a number of soft goals slip through.
Expect the 26-year-old Czech to bounce back against the L.A. Kings Friday. If he doesn’t, the Jets are in trouble.
Heading in to Tuesday night’s game, head coach Claude Noel had a defensive lineup made up in his mind that included Dustin Byfuglien playing next to Grant Clitsome.
But with Clitsome out of the lineup due to injury, the Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom pairing from last season were reunited to play at least one more game together.
And what a game they had.
Together they collected a total of five assists and were a plus-2. Wonder if Noel plans to split them up again?
A come-from-behind victory on the road is a difficult thing to do and does warrant some joy in Jetsland right now.
But the truth is, the game was sloppy.
The Jets were lucky to leave with the win and if they don’t clean up their defensive-zone play they’re in for a rude awakening come Friday when they welcome the L.A. Kings to the MTS Centre.
- First Star – Jacob Trouba
He led all skaters with over 25 minutes of ice time, tied the game at 4-4 with a blistering slap-shot goal in the third period and added an assist. What may have been most impressive was his ability to shut down a pressing Edmonton offence in the final minute of play, protecting the puck along the boards to secure the win. Not bad for a 19-year-old kid playing in his first NHL regular season game.
- Second Star – Michael Frolik
He was acquired from the reigning Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks in the off-season to add defensive upside on the third line. But throughout training camp he wanted to show his peers he was able to add to the offence too. He did just that on Tuesday, adding two goals including the game winner.
- Third Star – Mark Scheifele
If it were not for the outstanding game of Jacob Trouba, the buzz would be about Jets rookie Mark Scheifele. The Jets first draft pick since relocating from Atlanta opened the scoring for the Jets with an impressive snap shot past the glove of Oilers netminder Devin Dubnyk. He played smart, competed tough, and proved why he belongs on the second line.