Welcome to the second installment of “Jets Weekly.” This author will cover the past week in Winnipeg Jets news every Saturday during the regular season and break down storylines involving the Jets organization.
Only one game was played, but the Jets had no shortage of storylines going into their home opener. Rick Bowness tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday afternoon, knocking him off the bench for his potential Jets 2.0 coaching debut.
The Jets finalized their roster ahead of Friday’s clash against the New York Rangers. Ville Heinola was sent down to the American Hockey League (AHL) along with Dominic Tonitato. Dylan Samberg, Kyle Capobianco, and Axel Jonsson-Fjällby, who was claimed off of waivers by the Jets, were the healthy scratches.
Hellebuyck Stellar in 4-1 Win Against Rangers
The Jets are officially 1-0 in the new season and it’s in large part because of Connor Hellebuyck’s play.
Related: Jets’ 2022-23 Opening-Night Roster Comes With Some Surprises
The former Vezina-winning goaltender saved 40 of the 41 shots that he faced, good for a .976 save percentage (SV%) on the night. The Jets were able to score three goals late in the third, giving their star goaltender the much-deserved win. In an offseason full of questions surrounding the team, Hellebuyck reminded people why he is as close to a guarantee as you can get in the crease.
The Jets’ bottom six is a major question mark going into the 2022-23 season, but they started on the right foot on Friday. Sam Gagner finished off the game-winning goal in his debut with the team alongside Saku Maenalanen and David Gustafsson on a fourth line that was extremely impressive. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, they out-shot-attempted their opponents 10-5 (Corsi) and held an expected goals percentage (xG%) of 91.31.
Lowry, Scheifele, Morrissey Named Alternate Captains
Earlier in the week, the Jets made their leadership group official. Adam Lowry, Mark Scheifele, and Josh Morrissey will all wear the “A” as alternate captains, with Blake Wheeler no longer being the captain.
Scheifele led by example with two goals on Friday night and led a top line that dominated the Rangers’ top-six. NaturalStatTrick.com had Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Nikolaj Ehlers controlling 54.5 percent of the Corsi %, and 59.58 percent of the expected goals at even strength.
Morrissey and Dylan DeMelo found themselves behind Brenden Dillon and Neal Pionk in terms of time on ice (TOI), but they played a solid game and played a big part in shutting down the high-flying Rangers. Lowry centred a third-line that was tasked with shutting down Artemi Panarin’s line throughout the game, and they succeeded in holding him off of the scoresheet.
Manitoba Moose Open Their Season Against the Rockford IceHogs
The Manitoba Moose will kick off their 2022-23 season with two home games against the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Moose are returning an extremely talented roster, given the cuts that were made by the Jets in training camp.
Brad Lambert headlines the forward group, with former first-round pick Chaz Lucius expected to play a middle-six role for the squad. Heinola, Declan Chisholm, and Leon Gawanke are re-forming one of the best blue lines in the AHL from a year ago, minus Jonathan Kovacevic, who was claimed off of waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.
Similar to last season, the Moose will go as far as their goaltending can take them. Arvid Holm and Oskari Salminen are projected to be the tandem to open the season, and they will look to improve off of the struggles the team faced in the crease last season. Between all their goaltenders last season, they held a .886 SV% as a team. That will have to get much closer to average if the Moose want to contend for the Calder Cup this season.
The week ahead offers high-level competition for the franchise. They will embark on a three-game road trip to face the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights, before returning home next Saturday to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. The organization will look to build off of a strong performance in Game 1, and get Bowness back into the swing of things once he returns from his illness.