Blues Hand Jets First Regulation Loss in Eight Games

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Mark Scheifele’s return to the lineup was spoiled on Friday night when the Blues defeated the Jets 5–2. Scheifele, played a whopping 23:32 in the loss, including 1:36 on the penalty kill.

After a scoreless first period, Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko opened the scoring at 4:18 of the second period, whipping a perfect shot off the bar and in past Hellebuyck. Goals from Berglund and Steen helped the Blues extend their lead to 3–0 before a late-period goal from Kyle Connor would make it 3–1 heading into the third.

With his eighteenth goal, Connor moved into sixth place among all rookies in points, with 35. Rookie Jack Roslovic—who saw his ice time diminish greatly, but more on that below—also collected his first career assist on the play.

Patrik Laine scored a familiar sort of power play goal, taking a slapshot from the top of the right circle to bring the Jets within one with 8:21 to go. Tarasenko quickly dashed any hopes of a comeback, however. Just 66 seconds later, he wired a pass off the end wall past Hellebuyck to make it 4–2. Jayden Schwartz added an empty netter with three seconds on the clock, and that was she wrote for the Jets.

The loss marked the Jets’ first regulation loss in nearly a month, when they fell to the Minnesota Wild on January 13. The loss was also the Jets’ first regulation loss at BellMTS Place since December 14, and their second this season to the Blues, making them 1–2 against their Central Division rivals.

Connor Hellebuyck appeared to be tired. From kicking a rebound out to a wide-open Alexander Steen for the game-winning goal to being slow getting across on Vladimir Tarasenko’s second goal, something about his performance last night seemed off. Having started in ten of the Jet’s past 11 games, the team will need to find a way to rest Hellebuyck down the stretch.

But who comes in instead? With Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson both suffering from concussions, Eric Comrie is the backup. Comrie lost his one and only start against the Panther this season 6–4, allowing five goals on 35 shots. 

Look, there’s no debating who’s been the Jets’ MVP this season: it’s Connor Hellebuyck. But even an all-star needs a break. If it were me behind the bench, I would put Comrie in for Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the New York Rangers. Despite only being three points out of the wildcard spot, Rangers ownership recently made it public that the team plans on rebuilding. Inconsistencies in goal have plagued them this season and they’ve allowed the sixth most goals in the league. The Jets, who have scored 178 goals this season, good for fifth in the NHL, should be able to take on the struggling Rangers, even with Comrie in goal. And Eric Comrie is no scrub himself. In 25 starts with the Moose this season, he’s 15–8–2 with a save percentage of 92.1 percent and a goals-against average of 2.54. 

Speaking of Manitoba Moose players, there’s Jack Roslovic. Roslovic, who saw time on the top line in games against the Avalanche and Coyotes, saw just 6:52 of ice time in Friday’s loss against the Blues. Though he still managed to grab an assist, it was still shocking to see the 21-year-old’s ice time drop from 15:28 against the Coyotes to 6:52 against the Blues. Granted, much of that has to do with the fact that the Coyotes and Avalanche are much weaker teams than the Blues, but Roslovic did manage 16:15 of ice time against the second-place Golden Knights. 

In the end, it will be up to Paul Maurice to decide how he wants to use the speedy forward. But with three points in his past three games, Roslovic is here to stay for now. Should he keep getting the kind of ice time he got against the Blues, however, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him in the minors again this season. Roslovic is good, but he’s not there yet. When injuries to players like Adam Lowry, Matt Hendricks, and Brandon Tanev start clearing up, expect to the rookie to head back.

The Jets will try to improve their record of 4–2–2 against the Metropolitan Division when they take on the Rangers on February 11.

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