Last night, the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1. It evened the Jets preseason record to 2-2-2 and more importantly the Jets got some production from their young guns.
Winnipeg heads into their final preseason game on a bit of a hot streak winning two straight games and having played four very impressive periods of hockey in a row. This came after a rather concerning start to the warm-up games, losing the first four including an 8-1 clubbing by the Minnesota Wild.
Goals were an issue early on this season for the Jets. They were shutout in their first outing this year, and manged just six in their first four games of the preseason. This trend appeared to be continuing in the Jets fifth game. Winnipeg headed to the third period down 3-0 and with little signs of life. The Jets made a huge comeback, punctuated by Mark Scheifele scoring his first of the preseason in overtime to get the Jets their first win.
Last night was another story completely, Winnipeg was strong from puck drop to final whistle and the guys who led the team were the youngest players. This season the Jets have made a major youth movement. They failed to re-sign some of their older players like Jim Slater and Lee Stempniak over the summer, instead choosing to go young, giving a chance to players like Nikolaj Ehlers, Andrew Copp, and Nic Petan. Last season the Jets average age was 26.8, 12th youngest in the league. The Jets go even younger this season, especially on forward where it appears they will dress three rookies and six players 23 or under.
If Winnipeg wants to succeed this year they need that young talent to stand out, and last night they did. Nikolaj Ehlers scored his first NHL goal (above) and added a helper, Mark Scheifele scored twice and added an assist, and Nic Petan had a beautiful assist on Scheifele’s first and added another in the 3-on-3 practice overtime. The Jets youth has been mentioned many times in previews of this teams season, but it cannot be understated, if the Jets youth cannot produce offensively, this team will be in a world of trouble. They got a good start last night and will look to keep it going as the season is less than a week away.