Winnipeg Jets Goalies, Byfuglien And Noel

An Old Jets’ Thoughts on The Winnipeg Jets Goalies, Buff and Noel — 

Holy hellacious!  The world is ending in Winnipeg as far the Jets go anyways.  Or so it sounds.

So, let’s get at this.  I thought I’d take a more “how would I feel if I was playing” approach to this.

Do players “play better” for Al Montoya than for Ondrej Pavelec?  It’s been proposed by many fans as their eye-test is telling them that on many occasions.  There’s the thought that the backup goalie is often a good guy.  He does a lot of extra practice work with skaters and is often well-liked.   There could be adds to this as well.  Maybe he saved one of Wheeler’s puppies from running out on to the street in front of a car.  😛

December 27, 2013-Jets-Wild-09

photo by Shawn Coates

Regular readers know I was hoping for improvement in Pav’s play.  I’ll put it here in a general sense quickly; less movement, better positioning, cut the roaming.  “Quiet” goaltending, if you will.  I wanted him to use that tremendous athletic ability from his “new” quiet spot.  He seemed to be on his way early after a shaky, but winning start, in Edmonton at the beginning of the year.  Beating LA and for a period afterwards, I saw signs that made me think he was finally listening to the coaches.  Then it went poof.  Don’t ask me why?   Although, his style started moving back to the “old Pav” for some reason. And his save percentage has of course regressed to the predicted area. I’m just trying to figure out if there’s a reason why, other than “he’s a below- average goalie”.

Meanwhile, Montoya is a very solid positional goalie yet doesn’t have the dramatic, awe-inspiring athleticism.  He certainly appears to be a communicator on the ice as far as I can see from the TV.

It’s pretty simple actually.  I wanted to play in front of the goalie that stopped the most pucks, of course, but that can be a close battle at times.  The point is I was trying as hard  for one guy as the other guy.  But, a goalie like Montoya can make the skater’s job easier as he’s predictable.  You can get a feel for what he’s going to do and hopefully be in a better position.  That may “look” like I’m trying harder for him but its my confidence in what he’s going to do that drives me to play that way.

In reverse, as a teammate I might like Pavs, but if I am constantly wondering where he’s going.  I have to guess.  That will most surely lead to me guessing wrong and looking stupid and hurting the team or getting hurt.  I’ll wait for another day for a couple of those stories.  If you’re always guessing as a defenceman, you’ll eventually be wrong.  With more guessing, the more times you’ll be wrong.

I don’t think the Winnipeg Jets “try harder” for Montoya.  They just look like better players as he supports what they need.  TRUST.

Big Buff

Not going to tell you that Dustin Byfuglien should have made TEAM USA  but will give you an inside from Twitter where Big Buff gets lots of ink.  My pals at @arcticicehockey constantly beat the drum that Tobi Enstrom should be playing with Buff as the advanced stats say it is so.   To my eye-test, they are absolutely correct if all you look at is their stats.  That pairing produces a lot more time in the offensive zone than they spend in the D-zone for the Winnipeg Jets when paired together.

Dustin Byfuglien. SHAWN COATES PHOTO

photo by Shawn Coates

But at the same time, as some of them have argued,  Buff is a very good number one defenceman in the NHL.  I have proposed to them the following.   MY belief is that a great number one D should be able to carry any d-man in the lineup.  He needs to be that good.  Sure, the numbers will decline somewhat but he shouldn’t have to “have Tobi” to produce positive results overall.  When I say “he” that’s ANY true number one I’m talking about.  Of course, large sample sizes are difficult with all the movement in the bottom part of many lineups.

Since he has numbers that get worse with other D-men, I have to wonder if its fans, media, and even Coach Noel who have overvalued what Buff really is.  He became famous in Chicago as a forward in a small sample of games.  He’s proven his offensive skills are awesome and his D-zone work seriously flawed.

I have to wonder about this and if others have the same type of feeling at times even though the subject may be different.  If Arctic Ice Hockey didn’t come so hard with the “Buff-Tobi” promo, I ponder whether I might have suggested that they play together even after my initial “he should be able to play with anyone” approach. 😎  #blameAIH

Before I can do that though, everyone would have to admit Buff is not a great number one and not even a good number one.  He’s a rover or a number three or number 4 maybe, and among the best in the league at that though.  In this way of thinking, Tobi is number one, and I can comfortably allow Tobi and Buff to play together. 

If we had had that in our head the whole time, this pair could be a thing.  It’s what Buff  NEEDS which fits my point.

Claude Noel

I have felt that Claude was safe for the year, as he is GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s security blanket. Change the coach and the spotlight turns bright on the players and the GM.  It’s the way of sports. One should be sure the team will start winning if pulling the plug.

Many love Noel and many want him out but when is the day?  I’ll be cheering for him daily to hopefully see his next post-game media scrum.  But I won’t be shocked if Chevy finds its his best move.



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