Winnipeg Jets Week In Review For Dec. 16 –Dec. 22 —
In trying to come up with some narrative for the Winnipeg Jets week that was Week 12, I found myself feeling rather indifferent. Resignation has set in that this team is what it is, a .500 team. This team finds a way to make easier games much more difficult. Yes, this is the NHL and on any giving night any team can beat another. However, for all the inconsistencies that have plagued this team, we are able to count on one thing. No game should be taken for granted. A week that was setup to be very promising turned out to be nothing more than a microcosm of the season this far, a loss to a team they should have beat and a 2-2-0 record.
Game 35 — at Columbus
Final score: Wpg — 3 Columbus — 2
Game 36 — at Buffalo
Final score: Buffalo — 4 Wpg — 2
Game 37 — vs Florida
Final score: Wpg — 5 Flroida — 2
Game 38 — at Vancouver
Final score: Vancouver — 2 Wpg — 1
3 Stars of the week:
Evander Kane — 3 goals 5 points (+1)
Mark Scheifele — 3 goals 6 points (+2)
Michael Frolik — 1 goal 3 points (+2)
Dustin Byfuglien — 3 assists
Forwards: C/C+ Outside of the incredible performance of the Kane, Scheifele, Frolik line contributions were thin. The Winnipeg Jets scored 11 goals for the week or a 3.67 goals per game average. Sounds good doesn’t it? Unfortunately, 7 of those goals came from the Scheifele line and only 2 of the goals came from the remaining forwards. The Ladd, Little, Wheeler line has got to get going and offer a balanced offensive threat otherwise teams will key in on Scheifele and Kane and shut them down. The bottom 6 are a combined -9 in the plus/minus category which makes rolling 4 lines next to impossible.
Defence: C The Winnipeg Jets defense continues to show its inability to do what they are supposed to do, defend. Team Defense is critical and the forwards play a role however the Jets D-Corp are challenged to effectively move the puck into quick transitions and often found penned into their own end. It can perhaps be pointed to the fact that as a collective group they make it far too easy for the opposition to gain entry into the zone. This groups inability to cover key areas such as the front of the net have resulted in too many easy scoring chances.
Goalie: C- Pavelec is not the reason the Jets are not a Playoff Team. However, the stats don’t lie and Pavelec had a bad week. One win in three tries speaks for itself aside from the .899 save % and 2.70 GAA. Conversely, in the lone game Montoya played last week, he won. Montoya’s 5-2-1 record, .920 save %, and 2.23 GAA for the season is deserving of more ice time and chance to do something the team needs. WINS.
Special teams: The Winnipeg Jets Special Teams had an outstanding week. The Power Play of late has improved dramatically with the team finding itself out of the league cellar in the PP % category sitting now in 24th spot at 15.08%. The Penalty Kill also had another good week and continues to be a solid part of the Jets game despite dropping down a few spots in the league PK % standings.
Powerplay — A+ 4 – 10 (40.00%)
Penalty kill — A 12 – 14 (85.71%)
Video Highlights: CLB: 4:25 — BUF: 4:30 — VAN: 4:25 — EDM: 421
Commentary: The Christmas Break can’t come soon enough for a team that desperately needs a reset. Included in that reset is Coach Noel who needs to re-evaluate his in-game management strategy. We have seen it time and time again, players being inserted into key situations when the team is down a goal or two. I think it’s time to recognize that Thorburn, Wright, Tangradi, et all do not have the ability to put the puck in the net and over the course of this past week the inability to defend. The 4th line has played an average of 6:33 per game and contributed a whopping -6 with no points. That’s got Press Box written all over it with most teams. Swammy Manny predicts some new waiver wire pick ups in the New Year as the bottom 6 are killing the Jets right now! For that, Chevy needs to accept his fair share for what has occurred this year. How could the character of this team been that misjudged? Given that performance and the recent call up of an offensive player (Eric O’Dell) makes you question Coach Noel’s line management. Chris Thorburn has benefited by injury only. The additional minutes have made that line suffer. It’s time for Noel to lose his penchant to punish young players and put them in roles where they can succeed. For crying out loud! What’s he got to lose by putting O’Dell on the line with Jokinen? We saw it late in the Vancouver game where Coach Noel finally put him with Jokinen for a shift to generate some offense. What did Noel expect would happen when he hasn’t allowed offensive players to play with offensive players? Bottom line (pun intended), Noel needs to relinquish some of the loyalty he has with this group and face facts. They are not getting it done.
The Playoffs are not in the cards this year and for a few years yet to come. Trouba, Scheifele, and Kane are showing they are the elite players on this team and that should be the focus for the remainder of the year.