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.

The Jets have 8 forwards who are averaging north of 14.00 minutes per night. There are 4 regular forwards (not counting Jim Slater) who are playing under 11.00 minutes per game but have been very solid contributors this season. Since the injury to Slater, James Wright has moved (primarily) to the center position and has been rock solid. Wright is one of the several waiver babies and has now cemented his place on the team. Wright only has 1 assist in 29 games, but he has taken over Slater's position as the lead dog on the PK. Winnipeg is currently 14th in the NHL in PK, and will only improve once Slater is back. He and Wright should provide a lock down first pair.

Chris Thorburn has twice as many points as Wright...2 assist. Of course all of those points came in the most recent game so he comes into the game on fire! Once a fixture on the Jets lockdown third line, Thorburn has shifted around from the 2nd line to 4th line, and was out for almost the entire month of October. Thorburn is a "heart and soul" glue guy and will do whatever the team needs. He doesn't fight much but he can, but more often than not he plays a safe game and bangs some bodies around. He would benefit greatly from a return of Slater.

Eric Tangradi is a full fledged, regular NHL player for the first time in his career. On his current pace, Tangradi will post his most games played in a season some time in January. He's one point behind posting his best ever season as well, but don't get too excited. He has 1 goal and 2 assists, and his career high is 4 points. Tangradi is a lot like Thorburn in that he is a big body, throws some hits, but isn't a PIM machine. He only has 11 PIMs so far this season which is actually the highest of all the low minute guys. The most interesting stat for Tangradi is his positive Corsi number. Again of all the low minute players, he is the only player over 50%, a full 6-8 percent over his usual line mates. The numbers suggest that usually good things happen with Tangradi on the ice.

Matt Halischuk is the "sniper" in this group of four. With 2 goals and 4 assists, he is the leader of the fantastic four in ice time as well, averaging 11.14 minutes per game. Halischuk was fortunate to play with Michael Frolik and Mark Scheifele last game, but didn't do much with it. His career high in goals is 15 so he can play an offensive game. In order to get to the next level however he needs to be more consistent, as he is prone to long stretches of no production. His Corsi numbers are also the worst of the four and he is getting the best zone starts as well. He's smaller than your typical bottom of the roster forward, so in order to make a contribution to the team, he is going to have to find his offensive game on a more consistent basis.
If and when Jim Slater gets healthy, one of these four will find themselves in the press box with Anthony Peluso. It will be interesting to follow their progress for the rest of the season.

PS, Here is me in Florida last year rocking the Burmi. Its -24 where I am right now. Dare to dream...


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