The Winnipeg Jets kicked off the 2014-2015 campaign on a three game road trip on the west coast against the Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, and the defending champions, Los Angeles Kings. For the Jets to make any noise in the playoff race this year, they have to address the issues from last year that plagued them when trying to gain points on teams ahead of them in the Western Conference.
Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little ignited the Jets to a 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes in their regular season opener. Wheeler scored twice in the first period and Bryan Little scored his second of the game on a shorthanded marker in the third period to seal the victory. The win was a costly one as winger Evander Kane collided with teammate Mark Scheifele forcing Kane to leave the game. Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was solid in net stopping 26 of 28 Coyotes shots.
The San Jose Sharks provided a much stiffer challenge devouring any momentum the Jets could gain. Coming off a shutout against the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks continued their suffocating ways blanking the Jets 3-0. Patrick Marleau had a goal and an assist and goalie Alex Stalock turned away 30 shots to hand the Jets their first loss of the season. Penalties hampered any chance for the Jets to get in the game.
“We had to spend almost an entire period in the penalty box,” coach Paul Maurice said about the five straight penalties in the third period. “We can’t spend so much time in the box.”
Winnipeg had little time to lick their wounds taking on the defending Stanley Cup champion, Los Angeles Kings, the following night. If the game against the Sharks and Kings were any indication on how the Jets stacked up to the elite teams in the West, they have their work cut out for them. Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli led the charge with a goal and an assist each as the Kings dominated the Jets 4-1. Backup goalie Michael Hutchinson got the start in between the pipes but was pulled midway through the second in favour of Pavelec. Kings goalie Martin Jones was stellar stopping 29 of 30 shots.
The Winnipeg Jets will head back home where they hope the hometown crowd will energize them on a five game home stand. Their first home game will see them take on their Central division rivals, the Nashville Predators.