NHL Series: Connor Hellebuyck believes he played “his best hockey” against the Avalanche

NHL Series: Connor Hellebuyck believes he played “his best hockey” against the Avalanche
NHL Series: Connor Hellebuyck believes he played “his best hockey” against the Avalanche

Connor Hellebuyck began his end-of-season press briefing with a surprising assessment of his play in the Winnipeg Jets’ loss in their first-round series to the Colorado Avalanche.

“You probably won’t believe me when I say that I played one of the best games of my career, but that’s really how I felt,” said the goalkeeper in opening during the team review. Jets on Thursday, referring to Tuesday’s game won 6-3 by the Avalanche.

Hellebuyck, a Vezina Trophy finalist this season, finished with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage, which placed him second in the league this year.

Those numbers dropped significantly in the playoffs, as he allowed 24 goals in five games for an .864 save and a 5.23 goals-against average.

“Not only was I playing my best hockey, but I was in that zone where you don’t think, you just play, and that’s what you’re looking for,” he said.

“Not being able to stop four goals from being scored is heartbreaking,” added the goalkeeper.

The Jets opened the series with an up-and-down 7-6 victory, but followed that up with four straight losses, allowing five or more goals in each game of the series. Winnipeg only allowed five or more goals seven times during the regular season.

“You have to give credit to the Colorado Avalanche for what they did, but looking back, I don’t know if I saw half the pucks go in the net,” Hellebuyck said.

“They did a great job, but the fact that I wasn’t able to put my foot down in just one game breaks my heart because it’s not my usual way of doing things. »

Despite the positive assessment of his performance, Hellebuyck admitted there was room for improvement for him and his team.

“I don’t want to tell you I don’t want to be better, I absolutely have to be better if we want to win,” he said.

“That’s the playoffs, it’s very close, and if you give a guy space, he’s going to take advantage (…) We gave a little too much space. »

The premature exit continues a recent trend for the Jets, who have advanced past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs twice in six attempts since the 2017-18 season.

Hellebuyck, who has traditionally performed well in the playoffs, conceded that after two straight first-round exits with a disappointing performance, he might need to see things differently going forward.

“When I was removed [après la deuxième période] to give me more rest [dans le quatrième match]I felt a flood of emotions that I had suppressed throughout the series and I realized that I couldn’t do this alone,” he said.

“I realized that I needed to be a part of this team more than I was…I’m trying to put everything on my shoulders and I don’t think that’s the right way to approach the playoffs. »

Hellebuyck, 30, just completed the first part of a seven-year contract signed with the Jets in October.



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