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Jets Need a Reset

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A lot has changed for the Winnipeg Jets over the past few weeks. They were challenging the Toronto Maple Leafs in back-to-back games for first place in the Scotia North Division on April 22–24. The Leafs outscored the Jets 9–4 in those games, increasing their lead in the division and sending the Jets into a downward spiral.

In fact, the Jets have lost every game since then and are on the longest losing streak of regulation losses since they relocated from Atlanta in 2011.

To put it mildly, a lot of things have gone wrong over the past six games.

First, Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck was pulled on April 22 against the Maple Leafs after allowing three goals on six shots. Hellebuyck disagreed with being pulled and was uncharacteristically vocal about the coach’s decision.

“I don’t think I should have pulled,” he said. “I don’t think last game was an off-game. I felt fine in the net. I’m not gonna lie and say I was A-plus material, but I thought the game that I had was good enough to win. It was only going to get better if I was given the opportunity to grow in that game.”

Next, all-star Mark Scheifele was benched for 17 minutes the following game on April 24 against the same Toronto Maple Leafs after staying on the ice for nearly a minute and a half during a four-on-four situation when it was still a one-goal game and coasting to the bench prior to the Maple Leafs scoring to make it 3–1.

Scheifele has been lazy on countless defensive assignments and head coach Paul Maurice opted to send him a message.

“We have some things that we value as a group,” said Maurice. “Mark’s a real competitive guy. Sometimes that gets the best of him, I think. We just need to adhere to our core values.”

Scheifele isn’t the only forward who’s underperforming. Winnipeg’s top-six forwards of Scheifele, Wheeler, Dubois, Connor, Stastny, and a healthy Ehlers combined for only 13 points and a plus/minus rating of minus 33 over the previous six games.

Lowry’s return to the line-up should allow Maurice to shake up the lines and go to more familiar combinations, hopefully boosting the productivity from his top forwards.

The Jets need more out of Hellebuyck, Scheifele, and the rest of their top six forwards. They need to reset, focus on the basics, and redeem themselves tonight against the Ottawa Senators.

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