Within the aftermath of a disastrous Sport 1 in a best-of-five Stanley Cup playoff sequence in opposition to Calgary, the excellent news for the Winnipeg Jets is nobody in a blue-and-white jersey was identified with COVID-19.
That is about the one factor that went proper for Winnipeg at Rogers Centre in Edmonton on Saturday evening, the place the Flames defeated the Jets 4-1 and the deities that govern the fates of hockey groups determined to bestow accidents on two of Winnipeg’s most vital gamers.
Barely 5 minutes into the primary sport of the qualifying-round sequence, Jets centre Mark Scheifele — the workforce’s finest playoff performer over the previous two seasons — was knocked out of the sport and probably all the playoffs, nevertheless lengthy which will final for Winnipeg.
Scheifele was making an attempt to elude a verify from Flames super-pest Matthew Tkachuk when the Jets centre jammed his left leg into the boards, wincing in extreme ache even earlier than he tumbled to the ice and appeared to favour his knee.
Quite a few replays appeared to indicate Tkachuk first had an arm on Scheifele’s again after which had glancing contact with Scheifele’s skate.
Sportsnet commentators said that contact seemed to be incidental and appeared to play no position within the harm to the Jets centre.
Scheifele’s teammates have been far much less satisfied of Tkachuk’s innocence. Jets Captain Blake Wheeler challenged No. 19 to a combat and the momentum appeared to favour Winnipeg for a couple of microseconds.
It even appeared just like the Jets would use the early nightmare as gas when Jets ahead Adam Lowry dug a puck out from behind Calgary’s web and backhanded it to Andrew Copp within the slot, the place he fired a fast one over the glove of Flames’ goalie Cam Talbot.
The Jets would not rating once more on Saturday evening. Copp’s objective could be the lone second of pleasure in a really grim sequence opener for Winnipeg.
Seemingly dejected by Scheifele’s harm and unable to reorganize their play, the Jets got here out flatter within the second interval than a Richardson’s floor squirrel caught under the wheels of an F-150.
The Jets merely couldn’t compete with Calgary.
The Flames gifted the Jets with seven energy performs, however Winnipeg couldn’t set up themselves within the opposing zone, not to mention mount any sustained stress on Talbot.
They ended the evening zero-for-seven with the person benefit and even gave up a shorthanded objective.
That energy play misplaced one other key piece early within the third interval, when sniper Patrik Laine collided with Flames captain Mark Giordano and appeared to injure a hand.
WATCH | Jets star Mark Scheifele leaves sport with obvious leg harm:
The severity of this can’t be understated: The Jets misplaced two of their most vital offensive gamers within the first sport of a sequence in opposition to an opponent whose strongest asset is workforce defence.
Winnipeg could not appear to manage the play at even power on Saturday and failed on the penalty-kill as properly. Calgary went two-for-four on the facility play, together with a objective by Johnny Gaudreau, who was criticized in the course of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs for disappearing throughout an opening-round loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Even Vezina-nominated goalie Connor Hellebuyck could not work any magic on an evening when he confronted 33 pictures, which is sort of a evening on the sofa consuming Cheezies, given what number of good possibilities the Jets often surrender. The Jets solely managed 17 pictures on Talbot.
To cap off the evening, even the extra-man desperation effort additionally failed spectacularly for Winnipeg. On a play emblematic of the best way issues went for Winnipeg, Flames ahead Andrew Mangiapane intercepted a net-front cross try and deposited the puck into the Jets’ empty web.
Winnipeg must develop a brand new sport plan for Sport Two on Monday, probably with out Scheifele and Laine.
All of the Flames must do to win is preserve doing what they’re doing.