Lambert, Schmidt Lead Jets To Victory Over Canadiens, 4-3
The Winnipeg Jets were back in action for some pre-season hockey, and the team showed exactly what we have been looking for for a while now.
Without their top players such as Connor, Ehlers, Scheifele, Wheeler and Morrissey, the Jets still had many bright spots. Brad Lambert had a great game, as well as the young defenders Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg.
To get one thing out of the way, both teams played a really good pre-season game. On the Montreal side, Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle, and others really showed off some of their talents, and what the future holds around the very young core. On the Jets side, which we will obviously focus on, the young guys were great, but Pierre-Luc Dubois was very good doing his PLD things.
Some depth players who are unlikely to make the team had their impacts as well, with Evan Polei and Cole Maier opened up the scoring for the Jets, and the pair played quite well in limited minutes, but will ultimitely be returned to the Manitoba Moose before the season starts. Regardless, it was a very good way for them to get their feet wet.
Brad Lambert, who started the game with an assist on Polei's goal, tied the game late in the third period, with just over three minutes to go. This goal was exactly what we needed to see from Lambert. The goal was built from two things. An Evgenii Dadonov fumble, but most importantly a strong-willed play from the most recent 30th overall pick. Lambert slips in between three Canadiens players, strips the puck off of Dadonov, and gets a really quick shot off on Primeau, and beats him cleanly. The entire game, regardless of the two points, Lambert was playing very well, and I know, many people will say playing one good pre-season game doesn't mean anything, but these are signs of what the Jets have in the high-skilled forward.
Nate Schmidt scores the game winning goal with 17 seconds to go, and unfortunately for Dadonov, the shot from the point hit the shaft of Dadonov's stick, shattering it and redirecting the puck in the net.
The Jets came back from trailing 3-2 in the final three and a half minutes, and it was a great display of their work ethics. I think every player played a strong game, and one player who stood out was Johnathan Kovacevic, who played very well defenseively, but was also a big impact on the transition. The defenseman, who requires waivers, is giving Rick Bowness a reason to keep him in the lineup. Though, Heinola and Samberg are as well. There is a lot of healthy competition going on right now.
Depth pieces like Sam Gagner, Kristian Reichel and Kevin Stenlund were also pretty good. A lot of the things you want to see out of these players. A lot of offense was being generated with these players on the ice, and they made an impact with almost every play.
A couple of criticisms I have for this game start with Mason Appleton. He had a couple nice defenesive plays, where he was the first forward back and broke up the play, but other than that he wasn't as impactful as I would have expected. David Gustafsson, as well, wasn't being as big of a factor as I was hoping to see.
My biggest takaway is in the net, though. Dave Rittich played a fantastic game 40 minutes, making some big saves, and only allowing one goal. Arvid Holm, on the other hand, has me a little bit concerned. He made a lot of big saves, and in his defense, the Brenden Gallagher goal, he had no chance on, and the Cole Caufield goal, it was just a beautifully placed shot that goes in on a lot of goalies, one that would have been a good save to have, but hard to blame Holm on that.
So what am I concerned about with a goalie that allowed two goals in a period that are some-what excusable?
His athleticism. He is almost too athletic for his own good. Holm has all of the skills to be a good goalie, but when he is sliding around the crease, he moves too much. It is fun to watch him, until it comes to being costly. I might be alone on this, which is fine, but it was especially noticable in that final 17 seconds. If you can, go rewatch that. This is hardly a slight against him, but if he can settle into the net a little more, be cleaner on his movements, he would be much better off. Let me know your thoughts on that.
It was a fun game to watch, and there were a ton of positives to take, and not many negatives. I am really enjoying the Bowness Jets, but I need a few more games to really see the impact he is going to make.
Thanks for reading, leave your thoughts in the comments, who stood out the most for you?