Saturday, 5 May 2018

One To Go

I was out at a barbecue tonight with new teammates as I joined a new team for the upcoming softball season. Without getting into the reasons for the change, the new teammates are solid and they certainly know how to throw a good barbecue party. How do I know? There was a large television set up outside so all those in attendance could watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Priorities, right? I'm happy to report there was good food, great people, and an incredible result that were enjoyed by the end of the night.

Yes, the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight while we were eating, so that was a bit of a downer for me. I will say that the hamburgers were done to perfection, the hot dogs and bratwursts were impeccable, the salads and snacks brought by people were incomparable, and I ate like a king. I also enjoyed a few Barking Squirrel adult beverages made by Hop City Brewing Company during the meal, and I think I found my new favorite barbecue beverage!

In any case, there was very little chatter once the Jets game started, and I have a few observations from that game. You can agree or disagree, but this is what I saw from my vantage point around the patio table.

First, Mathieu Perreault's addition to the lineup seemed to spark both Joel Armia and Brian Little. That third line looked as dangerous as ever with Perreault back in the lineup, and Matty was rewarded with a late goal after working hard all night. I like the added depth this line brings, and it could be the difference in Game Six.

The line of Lowry, Copp, and Tanev absolutely swallowed their opposition on this night. They looked sharp in their defensive game, and they play an honest, hard-checking forecheck when they're sent over the boards. Don't count this line out of the scoring because they create chances by forcing turnovers and running amok while forechecking.

Kyle Connor finally was able to shake the gorilla off his back as he notched a pair and added a beauty helper on a Mark Scheifele goal that was set up by a move that shows he's still brimming with confidence despite the lack of offensive stats. Here's a look at his night including the move he used to dance past Ryan Johansen.

Speaking of Connor, Connor Hellebuyck had another solid night between the pipes while Pekka Rinna got pulled once again. That's the second time he's been pulled in this series and the third time in these playoffs. I get that the Vezina Trophy voting is done prior to the playoffs, but Rinne has been awful in these two series for Nashville. If they don't get excellent goaltending out of Rinne in Winnipeg, this series is already over.

With Winnipeg pulling down a 6-2 win in Nashville tonight to jump ahead 3-2 in the series, I'll take the liberty of reminding everyone how difficult that fourth win in a series is, and I fully expect Nashville to bring the fury of an apex predator as they are backed into a corner.

The Jets are one win away from appearing in the conference final for first time in either iteration's history. This is the furthest they've been in any playoff since the heady days of the WHA. Can this keep the momentum rolling as they return home to try to close out the series? Over 15,000 fans in BellMTS Place will certainly do their part!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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