The Loss of Mark Scheifele Costs Winnipeg Jets Again In Playoffs

Mark Scheifele

The Winnipeg Jets were once again in a position to do some damage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They took out the Edmonton Oilers in the first round and were playing at a high level. Winnipeg was playing the role of underdog as many people were sleeping on them just like did during the regular season. And just like a year ago, with their matchup against the Calgary Flames, the Jets were the better team. But then came another unforeseen circumstance surrounding arguably the Jets best player. For the second year in a row, the Jets lost Mark Scheifele for a significant amount of time. This time it was not due to an injury, but a suspension. His absence cost the Jets once again a chance to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Mark Scheifele Absence Costs Winnipeg

Who really knew how much the Winnipeg Jets needed Mark Scheifele to be in their lineup. Even though the Jets play so well as a team, it is clear over the last two postseasons that Scheifele is the driving force behind the Jets offence. Last season, Scheifele was tied for the scoring lead with 73 points (29 goals and 44 assists) playing alongside Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor in 71 games. This season Scheifele in 56 games scoring 63 points (21 goals and 42 assists) playing alongside that trio. Scheifele made those two players better each season as other teams focus on him and open up those two players to be successful on the ice. But when Scheifele is on the ice, Connor and Wheeler do not have the same success and it has shown over the last two postseasons.

Scheifele Injury vs Calgary Flames

Entering the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs return to the play in Edmonton the Jets were a favourite to beat the Calgary Flames. With the way, Scheifele, Connor, and Wheeler were playing the Jets had the advantage on the offensive side of the puck. However, all that changed when Scheifele left Game 1 early in a collision with Matthew Tkachuk.  Tkachuk skate blade cut the back of Scheifele’s heel changing the direction of the series. Many of the Jets players thought it was intentional and head coach Paul Maurice used the word “filthy” on multiple occasions to describe the play. The Jets were never on the same team after the injury and it clearly affected the team. Though the Jets put up a good fight they never recovered from the loss of Scheifele.

Mark Scheifele Hit on Jake Evans

This season Jets were proving everyone this season by competing in the North Division and making the playoffs. Winnipeg was playing the role of underdog and thriving in it. People were sleeping on the Jets the whole season and into the playoffs. The Jets swept the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the playoffs. They played really well and were four wins away from making it back to the final four. In Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens, the fortunes of the Jets changed again.

With the Jets trailing 4-3 after Nikolaj Ehlers scored to make it a one-goal game and the Jets pressuring Montreal, the puck was dumped down in the Jets zone. Canadiens forward Jake Evans chased the puck down into the offensive zone. As he was attemping a wrap around to score an empty net goal, Scheifele hit Evans causing a disastrous result.

Evans was knocked out of the game. Scheifele was called for charging and tossed for the game. He was ultimately suspended four games for charging. And from their the Jets offence was never the same again. Everything went through Scheifele especially on the power play. Winnipeg just could never recover from his loss. The Jets could never find their game and give credit to Montreal for playing the way they did. Even if Scheifele was back in the lineup for Game 4, who is to say Montreal was not going to sweep the Jets out of the playoffs.

Consequences of His Actions

Throughout the season, the Department of Player Safety has been criticized for not being consistent enough on hits that we saw in the playoffs. We saw Nazem Kadri and Ryan Reaves suspended in the playoffs. But the result of Evans being knocked out of the series and the playoffs for now, ultimately decided Scheifele’s fate. The hit has been discussed and depending on your point of view you can say whether or not it was a hockey play or not. But Scheifele is putting the blame on the Department of Player Safety instead of himself.

Even though he was suspended by the NHL, it was his actions of hitting Evans that hurt his team’s chances of winning not the league. In today’s game that is a play Scheifele can’t make. The worst part is he did not even play the puck. Mark Scheifele is not the victim like he claims he is. He needs to take responsibilty for his actions which caused the Jets be knocked out of the playoffs.

Going forward if Scheifele can stay in the Jets lineup come playoff time, they can make real noise.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

 


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