Skip to main content

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele punches Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler and gets sent to the penalty box during the second periodKEVIN SULLIVAN,/The Associated Press

Well, they're back.

But the Winnipeg Jets may not last long in their return to the postseason if they play the way they did in Game 1 in Anaheim on Thursday night.

This was not a very good showing for a Jets team that many viewed as a dark horse in the West. They looked completely outmatched in the second half of the game as the Ducks stormed to a three-goal third period comeback and rarely let the visitors threaten.

Anaheim's major strength is in its two pillars of its top line – Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf – and they were the driving force in this win, with a combined seven points, including contributions on all four Ducks goals.

This game was, as they say, why they get the big bucks.

"Our big guys showed up tonight," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.

So limiting them is obviously a huge key, and the likes of Tyler Myers and company will have to be better on the back end in those situations.

But there were a few other red flags that stuck out about the Jets play.

No. 1 was the bad penalties. The Jets gave up three key power plays late in the second period and into the third that killed any momentum they might have had. Winnipeg was dead last in the NHL this season in spending more time on the penalty kill than the power play, and while Anaheim didn't have a potent power play in the regular season, that's not going to work in this series.

The Jets have a good team, but they are still the underdog and can't win from the box.

More troubling than that was how the game's territorial play went. At even strength, the Jets were dominated throughout the second half, and the trend was especially bad when their third and fourth lines were on the ice.

For the most part, the head-to-head matchup of both team's top lines up against one another worked for Winnipeg at even strength, but there's no question they lost the depth battle.

Overall, possession-wise, the Jets finished the game at an abysmal 36 per cent. Only Jacob Trouba had a good showing on the blueline, and their bottom six forwards were under 30 per cent as a group.

There wasn't a single Ducks player, meanwhile, worse than 54 per cent.

Jets line


Game 1 possession


Bryan Little

58 per cent


Mark Scheifele

41 per cent


Adam Lowry

32 per cent


Jim Slater

18 per cent

That may sound like picking around the margins after a game that was ultimately decided on special teams, but the thing is that, coming into this series, Winnipeg's real strength was driving that possession number.

The Jets were first in the NHL in controlling play 5-on-5 among playoff teams in their last 40 games (54.4 per cent), giving them a decided advantage over Anaheim. They're a formidable even strength team, using their strength along the boards to generate chances and suppress attempts against, and they simply weren't that in this game.

Without that, and with their penalty differential issues, and uncertainty in goal, they're in huge trouble in this series against a Ducks team that improved late in the year after some nice additions. (A couple of whom were healthy scratches in Game 1, which should have worked in the Jets favour.)

Winnipeg simply needs to be better at getting up the ice and to the net and testing Frederik Andersen, who looked beatable when given any kind of workload and screens in front.

He's a weakness they couldn't take advantage given they didn't have the puck nearly enough.

Based on what we saw in the regular season, the Ducks aren't going to continually feast on Winnipeg on special teams, but they won't have to if they're in command that much at 5-on-5.

One player the Jets really missed on Thursday was Mathieu Perreault, the former Ducks forward who helped balance out the Jets lines nicely throughout the second half when he was healthy. He's one of their best possession players and best point producers at even strength, filling a key role with youngster Mark Scheifele, Michael Frolik or Adam Lowry at various times.

His lower body injury isn't considered serious, so the sooner he can get back, the better the Jets depth should look.

Perreault can theoretically eat some of the tougher minutes and bump others down the lineup, potentially even giving the Jets a workable fourth line, something they haven't had hardly all season.

If they get that, this should be a long series, as Winnipeg has the size, speed and talent to skate with Anaheim, despite the difference in the standings this year. They've been an underrated team all year – for a couple years, in fact – even without the kind of star power the Ducks rely on.

They certainly didn't show it in Game 1, however, and will have to be much better on Saturday to ensure they don't head back to Winnipeg down by two games.