Ramblings: Jets Take Game 7, Hamilton, Pacioretty, Skinner, Eichel, Islanders Wingers – May 11

Michael Clifford

2018-05-11

In our only Game 7 of the second round, a matchup that the entire hockey world was looking forward to came to its conclusion. Each team looked great in stretches but the difference was a couple of early goals from the WInnipeg Jets that led them to a 5-1 win over Nashville, and a date with Vegas in the Western Conference Final.  

Hockey is a fickle sport, goaltending in particular. An all-world goalie like Pekka Rinne can look unbeatable one night and an ECHL goalie the next. On this evening, he was the latter. Those two early goals by Winnipeg, one by Tyler Myers and one by Paul Stastny, were both of the soft variety. The Myers goal snuck between his pad/skate and the post from a sharp angle while Stastny jammed a backhand short side off his own rebound. In a one-and-done game with thin margins of error, this is often, and in this case was, the difference between winning and losing.

Stastny finished the game with two goals and an assist. Not a bad deadline pickup.

A quick shout out to the Winnipeg fourth line. It’s not often fourth lines get the limelight but they were excellent in this game. With the Jets leading almost the entire game, Paul Maurice didn’t hesitate to use his depth and they had a few shifts of extended zone time, great cycling, and even a couple good looks on net. Being able to wear down your opponent and give your top guys some rest makes for a valuable trio, and they did just that.

It’s a tough out for the Preds. From the outset of the playoffs, and I mean this in all due respect to the rest of the West, these two teams seemed destined for a collision where the winner would be the West’s Cup Final representative. Now, Winnipeg still has a tall order in a Vegas team that has been playing lights-out hockey, in particular from Marc-Andre Fleury. All this is to say that I think many people saw this inevitable matchup as a Cup Final-worthy series in its own right. And it was.

The entire core of the Nashville roster save for Rinne and Nick Bonino are under 30 years old and signed through next year. They will be a Cup contender again. It was just a tough matchup.

Congratulations to the Jets and their fans. They’ve been waiting decades for this level of playoff success. I’m excited for a fast-paced Conference Final.

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All the goings on with the Carolina Hurricanes lately had me digging into their season a little bit more. Expected goals were covered last month (here and