Game 1 of the Western Conference Final goes to the Jets after a fast start.
The Jets were all over the Knight,s scoring three first period goals en route to a 4-2 victory in Game 1. Goals early by Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Laine and Joel Armia gave coach Paul Maurice the ability to roll four lines for the entire game.
Connor Hellebuyck turned away all 21 shots he saw and played like a seasoned veteran in what is the Jets’ first trip to the conference finals. That’s right, the Jets are only a few seasons old themselves, moving from Atlanta in 2012.
This new look, new attitude team has looked dangerous the last few seasons and did not look uncomfortable at all in this game.
3 Things we learned in Game 1:
The stage got bigger for the Golden Knights
For starter,s this was the first game that Vegas was not the home team in this playoff year. Having won the previous two series game openers at home, they started on the road and looked simply shell-shocked in the first period of this game.
Just 65 seconds into Game 1, boom, the Jets scored, and then again 5:44 later. Vegas looked very uncomfortable. In the playoffs, momentum can be everything and when William Karlsson scored at 8:10 of the first, it looked like Vegas may have calmed.
Not so fast, as Mark Scheifele scored moments later to make it 3-1. The stage got bigger for the Knights, but is too big? Only Game 2 will tell, but they need to prepare better than they did in Game 1 if they hope to even this series in Game 2.
Emotion get higher as the games become more important.
Nobody is riding the emotional roller coaster more than the Vegas Golden Knights in a season that, as each day has gone by, has established a new record for a first year franchise. Even losing the first game of the series will now be a benchmark should another first year team get here and win the first game.
In the Sharks series, there never seemed to be any one moment that can be pointed at as a shift or reason why this or that happened. Now, in the Western Conference Final, it may very well be emotion that causes the shifts, and if that is the case, the advantage goes to the Jets.
Vegas speed may no longer be the factor
If you watched the Knights this season at any point, you would have noticed that in many games, they simply out-skated their opponents. That’s not going to happen for them against the Jets. Although Winnipeg is a newer location for the once-Atlanta Thrashers, the down years have produced top-notch picks throughout the last few seasons which have brought a speedy, youthful makeup to this team.
The outstanding speed and talent of both teams’ forwards may offset one another, but it certainly won’t give this Vegas team that same feeling itenjoyed most of the season. The Knights now know that they can’t just skate their way back into games. In the playoffs, the deeper you go, the more overwhelming a simple one-goal lead becomes.