Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: Dec. 20

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. 

 

PAUL MAURICE RESIGNS AS COACH OF THE WINNIPEG JETS

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The angry mobs of Paul Maurice haters got their wish.

1. Jets:  Was another sub-par effort, this time against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night the game that pushed Paul Maurice’s over the edge and solidifying his decision to resign as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets?  We didn’t know it but Maurice had been thinking about resigning as early as this past summer as he stated in his presser.  Funny thing is that it was a huge surprise but then again not really.  After listening to Paul Maurice’s well-thought-out explanation during his farewell presser even his staunchest supporters understood and realized that he made the right decision.  You could sense a frustration in his voice in his pressers the past few weeks.  Paul Maurice poured his heart and soul into this team and this city and I’m glad he left on his own terms.  Good Luck in your future endeavours Mr. Maurice.  

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2. Jets:  In the corresponding move the Winnipeg Jets named Dave Lowry as the interim head coach and according to GM Kevin Cheveldayoff he will finish out the season.  Lowry lost his first game behind the bench as the head man versus Washington in a hard-fought game but the team rebounded with a solid 4-2 win versus the St.Louis Blues on Sunday giving Dave Lowry his first NHL win as the head coach.  The Jets’ record at the time of Maurice’s bombshell was 13-10-5 on the season and after going 1-1-0 under Lowry their record now sits at 14-11-5 and just outside of a playoff position.  

3. Jets:  After the embarrassing effort in a 4-2 loss against the Buffalo Sabres last Tuesday, Paul Maurice stood in front of the media and fell on the sword for his team which is admirable but complete BULLSHIT.  He said it was his fault for not having them ready.  That loss was ALL on the players.  If these prima-donnas can’t get up for 3-4 games a week maybe it’s time to back up the truck and ship them out.  Three days later Paul Maurice fell on the sword again and resigned as head coach citing he has taken this team as far as he could and now is a time for a new voice.  I can’t say I disagree as every coach has a limited shelf life in today’s NHL but all the players that say they would go through a wall for him really let him down. 

I don’t think PoMo lost the room and he said that during his presser, I think this is a team or group of players that took advantage of their coach.  This team is lacking a work ethic.  For some players, it comes naturally while others have always to be urged/reminded.  You can’t teach hard work, it’s either in you or it’s not and like I said last week there is no doubting this team’s skill level but you can certainly challenge their consistent commitment to their defensive work ethic.  I believe last week I said “more skill than will” and I will stand by that.

Hopefully, interim head coach Dave Lowry can get this team to commit to a higher level of team defence and get a little dirtier in the high-scoring areas but I won’t hold my breath.  New coaches always get a bump in effort and commitment from the players, it’s just a matter of how long it takes them to revert back to their norm.  Only time will tell.  Good luck coach, I hope you are ready to crack the whip with this group.

4. Jets:  The “Gus bus” has finally arrived in Jetsville.  There might be a bit of an adjustment period but David Gustafsson has a multi-faceted skill-set that should help the big club.  He is a nice addition and should eventually fit into the much-maligned PK unit. 

UPDATE:

The “GUS BUS” took a little detour as he had a collision with the goal post after only a couple of shifts versus Washington on Friday night and will now be out of the lineup day-to-day.  

5. Jets:  Brendan Dillon and Nate Schmidt were nice additions this off-season and they are definitely an upgrade over Tucker Poolman and Derek Forbort but have we as Winnipeg Jets fans/media overrated them and are they enough to move the needle for this Jets team to be a championship-level team?  

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

Friday night with the score of 1-0 Washington, the Caps were definitely guilty of too many men on the ice and wouldn’t you know it, the guy that jumped off the bench early and played the puck created the play that made it 2-0 Washington.

Of course, it’s not challengeable.  The replay clearly showed the infraction.  I wonder who decides what is and what is not unchallengeable?  It makes no sense and especially if they can provide a replay.  Oh well, just as long as that darn puck isn’t shot over the glass.

7. Jets:  Funny how Jets fans are now just noticing how poor Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor’s defensive play has been.  It’s been going on for three years plus.

8. Jets:  Lots of thoughts lately about the top two lines and Schief vs PLD ice times but for me, the problem is the lack of scoring from the Winnipeg Jets bottom-six.  I love Adam Lowry’s game but he doesn’t provide the amount of offence needed from a 3rd line center.  In fairness, he has been auditioning different wingers every couple of games.  I hear Mason Appleton isn’t exactly fitting in with the Seattle Kraken.  Hmmmmm.    

9. Jets:  Dave Lowry’s goal is to now get this team back on track and prove to management and ownership that he deserves to have the “interim” tag removed from his title …….. BUT ……. if he doesn’t succeed don’t be surprised if Chevy calls on fellow Saskatoonite, Mike Babcock.  I’m calling it right now.  

10. NHL:  I wonder how long it takes Kraken GM, Ron Francis to give Paul Maurice a phone call?  I bet it’s already happened.   

11. Jets:  The rule of thumb is the GM gets to hire/fire two coaches before the spotlight shifts to HIM, so Chevy you are now officially on the clock.   

12. Ice:  The Winnipeg ICE split their four games last week going 2-2-0 and now have an overall record of  25-5-1 on the season and sit in first place, 4 points ahead of the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference.  After week 11 the ICE is still the top-ranked team in the CHL.  

Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings – Week 11

CHL Top Ten for December 15, 2021:

1. Winnipeg ICE
2. Edmonton Oil Kings
3. Kingston Frontenacs
4. Charlottetown Islanders
5. Kamloops Blazers
6. Everett Silvertips
7. Sherbrooke Phoenix
8. North Bay Battalion
9. Quebec Remparts
10. London Knights
HM. Seattle Thunderbirds
HM. Gatineau Olympiques
HM. Mississauga Steelheads

13. Moose:  The Manitoba Moose went 0-2-0-0 last week and now have an overall record of 15-9-1-0 going into their Christmas break.  They are still in 4th place in the AHL’s Western Conference.  As of right now, the Moose are scheduled to play their next game on Dec. 30 vs Abbotsford but with Covid ravaging pro sports right now things could change.  

14. Jets:  I believe I wrote here about a year ago that when Paul Maurice brought Dave Lowry in to join his staff as an assistant coach he basically just hired his replacement, I just didn’t think it would be this soon.       

15. Jets:  My weekly question for Kevin Cheveldayoff and/or Dave Lowry.
Isn’t having Kyle Connor on the penalty-killing unit the hockey equivalent of an oxymoron? 

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.

New Covid-19 protocols set down by the province now have the Jets restricted to 50% capacity for home games, so basically 7,500 per game now starting Dec. 20/2021.

vs Buffalo Sabres – 13,484

vs Washington Capitals – 14,039

vs St. Louis Blues – 13,524

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

  • Good: 1.  The Jets PK unit has now only given up 1 goal in their last 14 attempts.  Like I said last week, baby steps.  2.  Nikolaj Ehlers, with 2 goals and 5 assists has been named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for the week ending December 19, 2021.
  • Bad:  Kyle Connor’s early-season improved defensive play seems to be reverting back to his norm and his norm is not good.               
  • Ugly:  1. The number of positive Covid results all across the league and the amount of NHL games being cancelled.  2. Another lacklustre effort against a very beatable Buffalo team on home ice. 

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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:  20.40% down from  20.20 last week. 
  • PK:  70.60% up from 69.20 last week.
  • FO:  49.70% down from 49.60 last week.

19. Goaltending:

  • Conner Hellebuyck:  11-9-4 … 2.53 GAA … .914 SV% 
  • Eric Comrie:  3-2-1 … 2.53 GAA … .914 SV%

20. Jets:  I found Paul Maurice’s farewell presser very interesting and it could be interpreted in a few different ways.  To be honest my take on his message left me not thinking very highly of the players.  I think Maurice had a problem getting certain current and former players buying into a CONSISTENT commitment to stronger team defence.  Playing responsibly is required every night and not just when they feel like it.  Paul Maurice had his faults, there is no denying that but now I question whether this roster has what it takes to be a championship contender.  My opinion for a couple of seasons has been a HARD NO even though they have made some improvements to their roster.  In my opinion, they should still be a playoff team but that championship window is shut for this group unless they can miraculously change their ways and we all know  “a leopard cannot change its spots”.

This team needs to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and decide if they want to be contenders or pretenders.  (see #3)

I would like to wish all of our readers and visitors and all Winnipeg Jets fans a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

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Comments

  1. Merry Christmas to you and yours Mitch…
    Your point #3 was bang on. Our last tilt with the Leafs was the most complete effort I’ve seen this year from the Jets. Then I got bitch-slapped back into reality where lackluster efforts were more on display than the skills I know these players have. Like Maurice said, they need a new voice as his seemed to sound like a dial tone to some of the guys. I will miss him, but he made the right decision.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      Merry Christmas to you and your family as well Les … like they say, you can’t fire 23 players and this was a perfect example. This team got very complacent and comfortable. I hope Dave Lowry can get the best out of them because this team might not like the next guy they bring in.
      Thanks for stopping by regularly and commenting Les, it is greatly appreciated.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      #3 was more like an essay than a thought LOL

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