Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Another year has come and gone, and they seem to steam roll faster as you get older. I have made a point of not "wishing for the weekend" anymore because I realise those days behind you are spent. It's very similar to the NHL schedule when you think about it. Players can't wait for the long road trip to end, they can't wait for the Xmas break, or the Olympic break, always looking forward. The problem with parity (three point games) is that all those losses in November, December, and January are killer in March and April. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Happy B Day Andrew Ladd

If Andrew Ladd was enjoying the same production as he was last season he would be in serious discussion for Team Canada in Sochi. Of course that production was a career high in regards of point per game production so it unrealistic to bet on that again. That being said, his 22 points in 32 games is still good production and 8 goals are second best on the team. There happens to be 5 players tied with 7 goals though so if he wants to keep that spot he needs to heat up. Ladd is the captain and unquestionably the leader of this team, they need him to take the team by the throat soon or the playoffs will be a pipe dream. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Game day in Florida

How bad do you wish you were in Sunshine Florida right now? You could spend the day at the beach or whatever your pursuit is. Then you could go to the big mall by the rink and grab a bite to eat. Leave your car illegally parked because its free at the mall, and $20 at the rink. The funny thing is that there will be 6,000 to 8,000 tickets available tonight, and all will be cheaper than the parking...

The Jets had better be properly focused on tonight's game. These two points are huge, every bit as important as Tuesday was. The only difference is the opponent is taking on water and the season is already lost. The Jets cannot slip on the banana peel tonight, that would be a disaster. Look for Michael Frolik to have a big game tonight, returning home to Florida where he was drafted.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A look at the Jets, 1/3 into the season

The Winnipeg Jets have had a very interesting season so far to say the least. Their leading scorer is Bryan Little who is on pace to shatter his career best. This despite the fact that Captain Andrew Ladd has experienced a major correction on goal scoring (as was to be expected) and Blake Wheeler has not exactly lit the world on fire. Dustin Byfuglien went without a goal for over a month and now is shooting the lights out. Suddenly he is on pace for an 17 goal season... Ondrej Pavelec had to take his game to another level and he has, posting career best numbers so far in SV% and GAA. Al Montoya is right there with him as well, giving the Jets a solid one-two punch they badly need. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Huge Win!

Colossal, enormous, gargantuan, giant, humongous, immense, mammoth, massive, monumental, tremendous, or my favourite, magnificent! Look at the standings this morning, the Jets are now 4 points out of a playoff spot. Now the Coyotes do have 3 games in hand, but they moved a step closer to Vancouver as well. It was also a key win last night in that both Minnesota and LA won so they didn't lose any ground there.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Must win? MUST WIN!

What is more depressing? The Jets are in a must win situation already or that it occurs in DECEMBER? Winnipeg comes into this game a little banged up but rested. The Rangers have been playing .500 hockey for a while and both clubs have the same amount of points. The only difference? The Rangers hold down 8th spot in the east, the Jest are 12th in the west and need to start winning...NOW. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Black Friday...

Tomorrow the Winnipeg Jets will play the Philadelphia Flyers in a rare afternoon (morning) weekday game. This of course is occurring because of American Thanksgiving is today and tomorrow is black Friday. (BTW Canadian retailers, this does not give you permission to treat Canada as the USA; just saying)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Importance of win vs. Wings cannot be understated

Off the top, yes it was a victory against a tired team who had just romped through western Canada. Secondly, don't ever apologise for a victory, especially against the Detroit Red Wings. Thirdly, Winnipeg did the impossible, they dominated that game on the score board, shot clock, and the fancy stats. It was a huge win for a team that was reeling and spinning down the drain to the bottom of the conference standings. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Jets singing the Blues

Tonight the Jets face-off against the Blues in the very busy city of St. Louis. One night after a World Series game and Monday Night Football, The Blues get the spotlight tonight. The Jets are going to be hard pressed to finish this tough road trip with a win, something they badly need. After leaving some points on the board and giving some charity points to division rivals, the Jets find themselves sitting in 6th place in the division, one point up on Dallas. To make matters worse the next  three games are against Chicago (twice) and Detroit. Ouch 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Game recap - fancy stats style

Full disclosure (as per usual) - last nights Jets game against Nashville was much better to watch than I anticipated. The reason for that was the Jets pushed the pace all night. I've started to watch hockey differently and trying my best to take the emotion out of the game. (hard, and not always fun btw) When I turned the game off after Dustin Byfuglien's unfortunate play I stopped to think about what I saw, and my impression was the Jets deserved much better. This morning, the numbers prove it. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Are you an insomniac?

If you suffer from insomnia, tonight may be a your night. The Jets are in Nashville tonight where the atmosphere is incredible, and the team on the ice is incredibly - boring. The Preds are 2 points up on the Jets in the newly formed Central division, so tonight is an important early season contest; just don't expect what you saw on Tuesday or you will be VERY disappointed. Tonight could be a trap game versus a trap team.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jets are going to miss the South Least

What a great hockey game last night against the Washington Capitals. Yes, the outcome isn't what Jets fans wanted or had hoped for, but you cannot complain about the entertainment value. While obviously it makes all the sense in the world, its very sad that the Jets are no longer in the south east division and these teams will only play a couple times a year...

The west is big, mean, nasty, and truthfully, somewhat boring hockey. I have watched the western division primarily all of my life, never really paying too close attention to the east. Oh sure, there was the year that I had eight (yes eight) Ottawa Senators in my hockey pool (and yes I did win) but I have always been a west guy. That changed when the Jets became reality and for the first time in my life I was exposed to the entire conference for more than the odd game here and there. The difference in play between the two is so striking. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Trouba - how does he compare to his peers?

Jacob Trouba was very lucky last Friday. I know its hard to believe a sprained neck can in any way be lucky, but considering he was taken off the ice in a stretcher... He should miss a month of action, and after seeing the play, many probably felt it would be the last game he played this year. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

The spirit of St. Louis

I have always had a minor dislike for the St Louis Blues because they beat the old Jets in 1982, three games to one. The Jets had finished second in the Norris, coming off one of the worst seasons ever in 1980-81. The Jets were favoured over the sub .500 Blues and promptly dumped in four games. Looking back at the rosters now, St Louis had several players aged 21-25 who were just coming into their own and were a better team. Doesn't matter, I'm still bitter... (although I always loved Mike Liut, great hockey cards)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Will Patrice Cormier ever arrive?

With the news of the recall of Patrice Cormier from the minors, it got me to thinking about the 2008 draft where he was picked in the second round, 54th overall by the New Jersey Devils. After five years, you have either arrived as a prospect, or you haven't. The only exception to that rule is goalies and maybe the odd defensemen who decided to go the NCAA route. Safe to say Cormier hasn't developed into a full fledged NHL'er and maybe never will. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Morale victory?

Courtesy mckeenshockey.com

Last night the Winnipeg Jets arguably played their best game of the year, and fell 3-0 to the MontrĂ©al Canadiens. I know what you are thinking, this is pro sports and there are no morale victories. Perhaps that is true, but it's also important to remember the NHL season is a marathon, not a sprint. The Jets dominated several aspects of the game last night, the numbers don't lie... 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Tuxedo Night!

Way back in the early 1980's, the Winnipeg Jets marketing team created Tuxedo night to celebrate the visits of the MontrĂ©al Canadiens. It's always special (and annoying) when an original six team comes to a Canadian market. The fans of those teams who seldom visit Western Canada get to watch their favourite team in person (that's the annoying part). For the team it was a chance to be on National TV, an opportunity for the "local kid done good" to have his friends and family to see him live. Back in the early 80's though as a franchise or fan, it meant you had arrived! 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The importance of division games

The Jets faced a division opponent for the second time this season last night and came away from the game with a 4-1 defeat versus Dallas. Having lost to Minnesota the previous evening, their record now stands at 0 for 2 in division games. This is an early season trend that cannot continue.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Win a damn draw!

There are several truths about hockey. One, if you win a high percentage of face-offs, it generally isn't discussed. two, if you lose a high percentage, it is dismissed as meaningless by most hockey people. So what happens when your #1 center wins 5% of his draws and your #3 center wins 15%? Answer - you chase the puck all night. Not helping matters was Jim Slater posting a 36% number, in fact the only center that kept his head above water was rookie Mark Scheifele who ended the night winning 60% of his face-offs, a great total. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Jets face-off against new division rival

Tonight will not be the first time the Winnipeg Jets are playing in Minnesota, but it is the first time they are playing against them as a new division opponent and are their closet geographical rival. I'll be honest and upfront, I can't stand watching Minnesota play hockey. Even with the additions of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, they still play a very safe, controlled game that focuses on defence first. The lessons taught by former coach Jacques Lemaire have not been forgotten. Hopefully Winnipeg and Minnesota learn to hate each other as that is how true rivals are born. (or meet in the playoffs) The one thing the Wild do well is get in fast on the forecheck and pressure the defencemen. Winnipeg is also very good at that so it will be fun to watch that game within the game. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Early break in the schedule timed well for Jets

Coming off easily their worst game of this young season losing Sunday to the Ducks, the Winnipeg Jets have a 4 day break in the schedule which is perfectly timed. Coach Claude Noel can "punish" the team with a bag skate if he chooses, and can use the extended break to teach, which is always vital early in the season. Even though the coaching staff and the majority of the team has been here for a couple of years, there is always an early adjustment period that happens every season. I would be surprised if they didn't come out with a great effort Thursday against Minnesota. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Jets 3.0


Since the return of the NHL to the fine city of Winnipeg in May of 2011, the MSN and blogger community have referred to them as the Jets 2.0. I neither believe this nickname or agree with it. This is the third version of a professional team known as the "Jets" to play in Winnipeg.

To refer to them as 2.0 is one of two things. Either you are assuming that the team that started in 1979 was not an expansion team (it was actually worse) or you are doing what the NHL does, ignoring the WHA. This is wrong on both fronts.

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Jets are all set to fly high...

Today marks the return of the Winnipeg Jets for their third NHL season of Jets 3.0. Tonight they will face the LA Kings fresh off a shoot out win last night over Minnesota.

It will be a great test for the team, and should be an eye opener for fans and the teams in the Western Conference. The Jets are one of the few teams that are large enough to play with the Kings and arguably have more power wingers then any team in the NHL...

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Josh Morrissey signs entry level deal

As per the Jets official site, the Jets have come to terms with recent first round selection Josh Morrissey. At the time of the draft, I felt it was a bit of a reach pick and poor asset management on the Jets part (not trading down). To his credit, Morrissey has delivered excellent hockey so far this fall and IMO has become the top prospect not playing in the NHL. Go to http://jets.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=685307&navid=DL|WPG|home for more details.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Czech, Mate. The Jets may have traded for a king

Last nights game versus the Edmonton Oilers featured 4 players who hail from the Czech Republic. Early it looked like Ales Hemsky was going to best his country men with a great start with Taylor Hall on the top line. Ondrej Pavelec fought the puck all night and Ladi Smid will never be on the highlight reels. The best Czech last night was easily Michael Frolik who notched 2 goals including the game winner late in the 3rd period. Frolik was one of my wild cards heading into the season and if last night was any indication, he may be the trade of the summer.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Jets ready to drop the puck

Tonight the action starts for real and the NHL's 97th season begins! For the first time in Jets 3.0 history (yes 3.0...I don't agree with the 2.0 terminology) they will travel to Edmonton and take on the Oilers. Due to the lockout, this is only the second meeting between the two clubs, and I can tell you first hand there are thousands of Manitobans now living in Edmonton that couldn't be more excited for tonight. I was at the X game a week or so ago and could not believe the amount of Jets gear and face paint. 

Monday, 30 September 2013

Jacob Trouba as the 6th D man?

So as of this morning, Jacob Trouba would appear to have made the Winnipeg Jets roster. That in spite the fact that provided health is on their side, the highest Trouba can be expected to play is 6th in the batting order. Does playing the 6th or 7th D man role make sense when he could be the #1 D man in St. John's? I'd say no...

Friday, 27 September 2013

Lack of center depth = lack of playoff spot

Courtesy the Hockey Fanatic
Take your favourite NHL team, take ANY NHL team and remove the top two centers. OK, now, what are that teams chances of winning? Not very good. PERIOD. Now, take the Edmonton Oilers as exhibit A of a team with this very problem. Add in that they have finished 30, 30, 29, and 24th in the last four years and you compound the issue. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Why the NHL on ice product is wilting

There are several reasons why the NHL is suffering from a drop off in offensive production. This is not a "this year" problem, it actually is something that started in the early 1990's and has been growing slowly but surely every season. If you look at the stats from year to year, you will not see a steady path or reduction EVERY year but you can see the obvious trend. So why has this happened? There are several factors: