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)

The good news of course is Winnipeg comes in riding a nice two game win streak to start the long road trip. Another positive is that the Jets are 6-2-2 in the last 10 and have at least put themselves back in the conversation for the playoff chase. The bad news? They are still 6 points out with 3+ teams ahead of them and probably need to win 4 or 5 games in a row in regulation to make any serious moves. Why in regulation? Because the Jets are 24th in the league in wins in reg, the first tie breaker. 

They say in life, timing is everything. Finally moving to the western conference this year was supposed to be a positive for the Jets. Natural geographic rivals, better travel, more games in their time zone. Minnesota, Phoenix, and Colorado all have 34 points and hold down spots 6-8 in the west. ALL THREE would be tied with Boston for first in the east. In other words, if the Jets manage to continue this run, they could feasibly see themselves in a position to at least challenge for a playoff run. If they remained in the east this year they would be looking at a run for the conference. Crazy!

They has been an increase in chatter again about Evander Kane trade rumours. I have to admit I'm a bit conflicted on the subject. All young players need to learn how to be pro's, and I don't think Kane is there yet. It would seem on the surface he has taken huge steps this year in that regard, starting with him being very visible in the summer in Winnipeg. On the flip side, he is their most talented player IMO. It's not often the coach can survive a star player vs. coach battle, but I do know it serves no one well. On top of that I'm not a big Claude Noel fan, and I'm sure there are a few players in that room that feel the same. Hopefully this is a lot of smoke with no fire... 

Three players have really stepped up as of late for the Jets, goalie Ondrej Pavelec, Bryan Little, and Dustin Byfuglien. It wasn't that long ago that Big Buff was tied for the team lead in points with Toby Enstrom. Now Buff has 21 points, Enstrom 9. One of the hardest things for players to do once they sign their first big contract is to justify it. More often than not, players go through a lengthy slump trying in vein to "live up" to the big pay day. Apparently Little is not going to be one of those guys as he leads the team in scoring with 25 points in 27 games. That sound you hear is all the people who were critical of the contract. Anything? He's currently 11th in league scoring...not bad. Lastly, Pavelec is on pace to post career bests in both GAA and SV%. He still has a way to go to be considered with the best in the league, but his .915 SV% is improving. His 2.72 GAA needs work but is much better than the last couple of years. The numbers shake out as far as the league goes with him being 20th in SV% and 27th in GAA. He is 16th in wins, which is as much a function of the amount of starts he gets. Basically if the Jets want to make the playoffs, they need another level from their goalie.
Right about now would be a good time for Blake Wheeler to go supernova. I like what were seeing from Mark Scheifele, he has the look of becoming a very solid pro. I also like that they are playing him with Michael Frolik who is a great mentor. Its an early one tomorrow, hope you have your sick note handy. If not, enjoy the game on the radio...


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