The Winnipeg Jets lost 5-4 in double overtime on Saturday (April 22) to the Vegas Golden Knights, but what that score doesn’t tell you is the amount of drive and determination they displayed in that matchup. While they did lose and are now down 2-1 in the series, Round 1 is nowhere close to a washout for the Jets.
If the Jets can follow these three keys to success, they can easily have Game 4 in the bag. With another whiteout in the forecast, they will have no trouble navigating through the storm as they can see clearly what they’re looking for: the Stanley Cup. Let’s break down the Jets’ three keys to success in Game 4.
1. Remain Focused and Composed in Absence of Josh Morrissey
In the playoffs maintaining your composure as a player can be difficult, especially in times when your team loses one of its most important players.
Last night (April 22), the Jets lost Josh Morrissey less than two minutes into the first after sustaining a lower-body injury from what appears to be the result of a knee-on-knee collision with Zach Whitecloud of the Golden Knights.
After the game, Jets’ coach Rick Bowness announced that Morrissey will be out for the remainder of the series. He exclaimed that he has faith in his team to fill Morrissey’s gap saying, “(Morrissey is) a top five D in this league right now. He plays all the important minutes and he’s a guy that drives the offence. It’s a big hole, but we played the rest of the game without him and scored four, so we’re going to have to find a way to play the rest of the series without him because this series is far from over.”
Just like Bowness said, despite losing one of their core players in Game 3 the team fought as hard as they possibly could to force overtime after coming back from a 4-1 deficit. In a thrilling game, it was evident that the Jets know the importance of staying calm and collected in the playoffs.
While an unfortunate bounce off Ivan Barbashev resulted in Michael Amadio earning the game-winning goal for the Golden Knights, this game was a complete effort by the Jets and continuing to remain composed in Game 4 will be absolutely crucial to earning a win.
2. Create Scoring Chances, Stay Physical
An element of the Jets’ play on Saturday that was very evident was their willingness to create scoring opportunities by taking shots at the net. Forget about setting up the perfect play, by throwing the puck at the net and into the slot the Jets create chaos and ultimately, scoring chances.
While there were clean goals in Game 3, there were many shots throughout the night that almost turned into goals because of the teams’ willingness to just take the shot.
Another aspect of the team’s play that the Jets need to keep up heading into Game 4 is their high level of physicality. It’s obvious the tensions are high between the Golden Knights and Jets with a fight breaking out within the first minute between Brenden Dillon and Golden Knights’ forward Keegan Kolesar. The Jets had 69 hits while the Golden Knights had 39 in Game 3. As the series progresses, it’s only going to get more intense, and being physically dominant will become more important.
Related: 5 Takeaways From Jets’ 5-4 Game 3 Loss to Golden Knights
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Despite the loss in Game 3, Bowness only had positive things to say about his team saying, “The guys laid it all out there on the line tonight, they played their hearts out. Very proud of the way we played. We’re down early, we get that, we fought back. We’re down three going into the third, and we kept fighting. There is no quit in this group.”
If the Jets stay physical against the hard-hitting Golden Knights and continue to create scoring chances for themselves in Game 4, they can easily tie the series.
3. Feed Off the Energy of Jets Fans
Anyone who tuned into Game 3 cannot deny that the energy of the Jets’ fans is unreal. Fans participated in the whiteout, showing up to Canada Life Centre and the streets just outside the arena dressed in white to cheer on their team. It was the fans’ first whiteout street party in Winnipeg since 2019, so of course fans were more excited than ever to take part in the celebrations.
Even watching from home, I could feel the energy from the crowd through my television screen as the Jets rallied back from being down 4-1 to force overtime. As the Jets return to home ice on Monday, the players can expect the same level of energy to be radiating from the stands. They need to capitalize on that to fuel their gameplay.
Jets’ right-winger Nino Niederreiter played against the Jets back in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs as he represented the Minnesota Wild where his team lost in five to the Jets in Round 1. Reflecting on being in the presence of Jets fans Niederreiter said, “That was definitely a lot more fun being a part of them than playing against them.”
Lowry explained the importance of having such enthusiastic fans in the Canada Life Centre when he scored the tying goal in the third saying, “I was pretty fired up. To kind of enter the third where we were at and get the building rocking and have a chance to win in overtime, it’s a pretty big high emotionally.”
The Jets need the support of their fans more than ever on Monday night as they fight for a Game 4 win to even up the series at two games a piece. If the team can follow these three keys to success, they will not have an issue tying up this series. Tune in at 8:30 p.m. CT to see how Game 4 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs pans out for the Jets and if the whiteout is enough to guide them through the storm that is the Golden Knights.