Random Thoughts On The Winnipeg Jets: Feb. 17

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

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

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 warn

1. Jets: The Winnipeg Jets blew a golden opportunity to strengthen their wildcard position by losing 2 out their 3 home games last week.  It looks like it is going to be a dog fight right until the end of the season.  Calgary, Arizona, Nashville, Winnipeg, Minnesota, and Chicago are fighting for two spots.  The Winnipeg Jets overall record is 30-25-5 and currently on the outside looking in at a Wildcard spot.

2. Jets:  Watching the Jets getting sand kicked in their faces by Evander Kane Friday night was tough to watch.  I know the anti-fighting purists don’t believe having some muscle in the line-up would have deterred his behaviour but I wonder.  Kane always plays hard and that is what I love about him but how many visits has he had in this building where he was running around as he did on Friday night?  He never did that when Buff was here.  The Jets have a bit of team toughness but not enough to deter Evander on this night.  Even in today’s NHL you still need toughness to augment your speed and skill.  Team toughness is nice but I want some toughness that can hurt like Buff.   

3. Jets: I know home games and road games are both worth two points in the standings but a good home record makes it fun going to the rink.  Its gotta be tough going to Jets home games nowadays with them playing less than .500 hockey at Bell MTS Place.  Their home record is 14-14-3 which means the home faithful went home disappointed 17 times in 31 games.  With the Jets ticket prices and the costs of basic concessions that is a tough pill to swallow.   

4. Jets: As soon as Evander Kane laid that elbow on Neal Pionk’s head I said that was a major penalty but much to my surprise he was given a minor penalty.  Less than 24 hours later the NHL’s Department of Player Safety handed Kane a three-game suspension.  A major penalty call could have been a game-changer.  The three-game suspension is little solace after the fact and that is what frustrates fans. 

5. Jets: I’m going back over to the dark side in saying that you can’t win in the NHL with a bunch of under-sized smurfs on the blueline.  You can have a small, skilled, puck-mover on the back end and Toby Enstrom was a perfect example.  Buff and Toby worked but this Jets blueline really struggles along the wall and in front of their net.  This team needs a couple of skilled big defencemen but then again who doesn’t?

6. Jets: It was nice to see Andrei Chibisov finally dress for his first game in the NHL  The big winger didn’t get on the score sheet in his 8.03 of ice time but he was physical, competed hard, and did not look out of place.     

7. Jets: The news about Bryan Little having to shut it down for the rest of the season was bad but not unexpected.  Hockey takes a backseat to his longterm health.  I really like Little and I hope this is not career-ending for him.  Get well Lits.

8. Jets: The Dustin Byfuglien watch:  Still no official word yet on the Buff settlement but it is a moot point now.  Chevy doesn’t have to worry about cap space now since Buff won’t be playing this season.


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9. Jets: The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 24. 

Will Chevy make any moves to improve the Jets before the trade deadline?

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10. Jets: To nobodies surprise, Paul Maurice has signed a three-year contract extension to continue coaching the Winnipeg Jets.  I have no opinion pro or con although the PoMo haters do amuse me.  I will say Chevy is smart in extending his scapegoat.  It probably buys him a couple of extra years too.  

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11. This week: These four games this week will undoubtedly determine the direction the Jets will be taking on trade deadline day.  Based on a couple of deals already done by New Jersey I would prefer to be sellers.

  • Winnipeg Jets – Feb. 18, 20, 22, 23  

12. Goaltending:

  • Conner Hellebuyck: 25-18-5 … 2.70 GAA … .919 SV% … 4 shutouts.
  • Laurent Brossoit: 5-7-0 … 3.48 GAA … .888 SV%

13. Special Teams: Rule of thumb. Have the two red numbers (PK and PP) total at least 100% when added. (as your minimum) I also base the movement (up or down) on the % and not the NHL ranking.

  • PP: 17th at 19.60% down from 14h at 19.80%
  • PK: 28th at 75.30% down from 26th at 75.30%
  • FO: 16th at 49.90%  up from 17th at 49.70%

14. Jets: With Bryan Little’s and Dustin Byfuglien’s salaries off the books Chevy can make a big move or two if he is so inclined.  I’m all-in if it is good for the team’s longterm future.  I see no value in a short-term fix.         

15. NHL: The NHL is going through a long stretch of extremely inconsistent and poor officiating.  The DOPS seems to be handing out a lot more fines and suspensions after missed calls by the on-ice officials.  Not good.  

16. Jets: I look at Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk, Sami Niku, and Ville Heinola and salivate at the potential BUT wonder if we can have all four in the line-up at the same time?  Its hard watching good defencemen like Josh and Neal getting out-muscled every night.  (see #5)

17. Jets: Neal Pionk has been a nice acquisition this season but I thought Sunday’s game versus Chicago was his worst game of the season.  Maybe getting rattled by Evander Kane three times on Friday night affected him? 

18. Jets: Is it just me or does it seem that the Jets third line (although it changed on Sunday) has been doing most of the scoring lately?  The top two lines have added the odd PP goal and a bunch of empty netters but have done SFA.  Don’t ask what SFA means kids. 

In memory of my friend Darryl Manchulenko.

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Thanks, Mitch

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