Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: Dec. 13

Mitch Kasprick is the “Motown Curmudgeon” aka “Motown Mitch”

Odds and Ends, Thoughts and Questions, from this past week in hockey –

Just so there’s no confusion when I’m spewing my bias, I am a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Ice, and all Team Canada Hockey teams.

I am NOT a fan of Gary Bettman or as I call him, Count Chocula.  I am a big believer in the 7Ps. You’ve been warned. 

1. Jets:  After being schooled by Carolina on Tuesday night the Winnipeg Jets rebounded by getting 3 points out of Seattle and Vancouver and ended up 1-1-1 on the week.  The Jets record sits at 13-9-5 on the season and they currently occupy the last Wild Card spot.

2. Jets:  After I watched the Jets 4-2 loss to the Canes last Tuesday night I can honestly say that man for man I think our players are as good as Carolina’s on paper but unfortunately the game is played on ice, not paper.  The Hurricanes work harder, pay attention to detail, and have better special teams.  So, if it’s not the personnel it must be coaching right?  The Carolina Hurricanes are better coached and it really showed.  This is not Paul Maurice bashing, it’s just a fact.    

3. Jets:  A lot of Jets fans are probably more upset about Ville Heinola not dressing in the Seattle or Vancouver games than he is.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll guarantee you he wants to play but teams call up players for depth in case of injury or also as a reward for good play in the minors.  They get paid their NHL salary, so, there is that.     

4. Jets:  Connor Hellebuyck finally got his first shutout of the season on Thursday versus Seattle.  You could feel it coming.  He has been pretty good overall this season after a bit of a slow start but very good the last couple of weeks.  One thing about Connor Hellebuyck is you never have to worry about him for very long.  

5. Jets:  Blake Wheeler has rattled off 10 points in his last 5 games while playing some of his best hockey all season then BOOM he gets injured in the third period in Vancouver.  There has been no update on his status yet but it didn’t look good.  It was a knee injury and we all know those can range anywhere from 4-6 weeks to a whole season.  Let’s hope for the minimum.    

UPDATE:  

Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said it will be a rehab situation for captain Blake Wheeler and surgery is not needed.  He did not give a time frame for his return though.

6. NHL:  My weekly bitch-fest about NHL officiating. 

This past Tuesday and Friday the Jets were involved in two “goalie interference” challenges with two different results.  Tuesday versus Carolina, Connor Hellebuyck was pushed sideways and spun around by an opponent’s stick while trying to get a loose puck that Helle sort of had wedged against his pad.  My issue wasn’t the officials saying the puck wasn’t frozen, lets give them that but how is Helle supposed to be able to freeze the puck when he’s being turned while being pushed in his crease?  Paul Maurice lost that challenge. 

NEXT

With the score at 3-3 in the 3rd period against Vancouver, Andrew Copp scored on a rebound from a Nik Ehlers shot as Pierre-Luc Dubois was moving across the top of the crease and brushed Thatcher Demko as he was jumping to get out of the way.  PLD did brush him but Demko was a the top of his crease and was a little bit outside the crease.  The contact was incidental and Demko would have had ZERO chance to make the save as it was a bang-bang play.  Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau challenged the goal and won.  Paul Maurice along with 1000s of Jets fans watching on tv said some very bad words.

The inconsistency in this call from game to game is mind-boggling.  I’ve been of the opinion that players shouldn’t be allowed in the goal crease whether going for the puck or not.  In my opinion, the only way to fix this and stop the controversy is to follow IIHF standard and if a player touches the goalie’s crease they automatically blow the play dead and the face-off goes outside the blueline.  There is no doubt it will be a pain in the ass for a while but it will remove the goalie interference controversy and eventually everybody will adapt.

Gary Bettman and Bill Daly must think this is ok.

 

7. Jets:  Riley Nash was claimed off the waiver wire by the Tampa Bay Lightning this past Tuesday and this was great news for Nash and even better news for David Gustafsson.  For now, the Winnipeg Jets have called up Ville Heinola with Neal Pionk being on concussion protocol but Gus should get the call now with Blake Wheeler being injured.  He was probably coming up anyway as soon as Neal Pionk was ready to come back.    

8. Jets:  In what could have been a TSN turning point on Tuesday night turned into the Nightmare on Portage Ave.  Trailing Carolina 4-2, in the second half of the 3rd period, the Jets received a 5-minute powerplay and completely shit the bed.  It was embarrassing and that’s being kind.  TWO SHOTS …….. TWO SHOTS.

9. Jets:  This won’t be a very popular take for some of my readers here but right now I don’t think the Winnipeg Jets are anywhere close to being a Stanley Cup contender.  This team has some very good players BUT they seem to have more skill than will.  They are missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.  For most fans, the obvious answer is coaching.  The Jets special teams are awful and that’s on the coaching staff whether it’s player deployment or system.  In saying that I’m not sure a different coach can change the “give a shit” meter on this team.  The only thing consistent about this team is their inconsistency.  There is the old adage that just get into the post-season and you never know what can happen.  I don’t buy into this narrative because I don’t believe you can just turn it on and off with the flip of a switch.  Players don’t change their stripes, they are what they are.  Guys like Copp, PLD, Lowry, Harkins, Ves will go to the net and grind but we have too many players that still play on the perimeter.  Sorry but sometimes the truth hurts.       

10. NHL:  People that know me, know I’m a Coyotes supporter, season ticket holder (except for pandemic years), and defender of the fan base BUT I can’t defend this current ownership group if it’s true they aren’t paying their Gila River Arena bills and taxes.  Excuse my language but WTF are these owners doing.  I’m sick and tired of supporting a franchise that is the laughing stock of the league.  Gary Bettman and Bill Daly need to get their shit together and stop coddling this franchise. 

11. Jets:  It always makes me laugh when certain veteran players make the mistakes that Paul Maurice uses as the excuse to keep kids like Ville Heinola and David Gustafsson out of the lineup.  I don’t understand what he is so afraid of.  I realize the lineup card belongs to the coach but at some point, you would think common sense would prevail and Chevy or the guy really pulling the strings, Mark Chipman would say enough is enough, now play the kids.    

12. Ice:  The Winnipeg ICE split their two home games with Edmonton last week and now have an overall record of  23-3-1 on the season.  After week 10 the ICE are still the top-ranked team in the CHL.  It will be interesting to see if their split with the 2nd ranked Oil Kings will change their CHL ranking in Week 11 this upcoming Wednesday.  I would think with their 5-2 win over the 19-6-2-1 Oil Kings Saturday night the ICE should retain their #1 ranking.  The ICE just concluded their seven-game homestand with a 4-2-1 record.  

Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings – Week 10

CHL Top Ten for December 8, 2021:

1. Winnipeg ICE
2. Edmonton Oil Kings
3. Everett Silvertips
4. Kamloops Blazers
5. Charlottetown Islanders
6. North Bay Battalion
7. London Knights
8. Sherbrooke Phoenix
9. Kingston Frontenacs
10. Vancouver Giants

13. Moose:  The Manitoba Moose went 2-1-0-0 last week and improved their overall record to 15-7-1-0 and hold on to 4th place in the AHL’s Western Conference.  Cole Perfetti continues to lead the Moose in scoring with 15 points in 17 games but will be gone for a month representing Canada at the U20 WHC.  

14. Jets:  Evgeny Svechnikov’s usage lately has been very puzzling and frustrating for me.  Like I’ve said before, he is like found money but I guess PoMo would rather send it to the lost and found instead of spending it.     

15. Jets:  My weekly question for Kevin Cheveldayoff and/or Paul Maurice.
Do you think on Ville Heinola’s worst day he could have played any worse than Nate Beaulieu did in Vancouver on Friday night?   

16. Jets:  Attendance:  Winnipeg Jets attendance has never been an issue or a talking point but after a year with no fans, with people still a little hesitant on attending games because of covid, and maybe some fan backlash toward TNSE and Kevin Cheveldayoff, the attendance is down and I’m a little concerned.  I’ve gone through the pain of losing an NHL team and once in a lifetime is enough for me.  Yes, we have rich owners but the club still needs to be viable on its own merits.

Vs Carolina Hurricanes – 13,761

17. Jets:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly this past week.

  • Good: After giving up 2 powerplay goals in 3 chances against Carolina on Tuesday night the Jets went 7 for 7 on the PK versus Seattle and Vancouver.  Baby steps.   
  • Bad:  The second goal Eric Comrie let in versus Vancouver.  Most AA Bantam goalies stop that shot with their eyes closed.               
  • Ugly:  The Jets 5 minute PP versus Carolina in the 3rd period on Tuesday could have been a TSN turning point but instead it was about as deflating an effort as I’ve ever seen.          

18. Jets:  Special Teams: Rule of thumb. Have the two red numbers (PK and PP) total at least 100% when added (as your minimum). 

  • PP:  20.20% down from  20.30 last week. 
  • PK:  69.20% up from 67.70 last week.
  • FO:  49.60% down from 50.20 last week.

19. Goaltending:

  • Conner Hellebuyck:  10-7-4 … 2.64 GAA … .917 SV% 
  • Eric Comrie:  3-2-1 … 2.53 GAA … .914 SV%

20. CFL:  Winnipeg – 33   Hamilton – 25  

BACK TO BACK GREY CUPS BABY 

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