Thursday, 2 January 2014

Olympic snub? Not really

Much is being made about the supposed snub of Dustin Byfuglien and the inclusion of Blake Wheeler. Truth is, both were in tough to make the team and the fact that they are in the conversation is a positive about the value of both player. Wheeler is exactly the kind of player you want for international ice. Big, fast, and can score. His problem is and has always been consistency. In a small tournament of 6-8 games, he could score 7 or 8 goals and make you look like a hero. He also could put up donuts and that is the fear that usually keeps decision makers like Brian Burke to look away. These gents are very risk adverse... If Wheeler doesn't produce early, he will be an extra forward before the tournament is over, but great for him that he was included in the first place. 

Dustin Byfuglien as you all know is a different animal. He plays defence, but he truly is a risk-reward rover. He can play physical but that probably is diminished on Olympic ice. He can skate for sure, but he will take chances at the wrong time and leave his partner exposed. He can play a great puck possession game (witness his 4 on 4 ability), but makes crazy passes up the middle. I will listen to the argument that Byfuglien has more ability than some of the players who made the team over him. The fact of the matter is that all of those players play a safer game. You can also argue that with minute eaters like Ryan Suter on the team, Big Buff wouldn't see enough ice to keep his legs in the game. Be that as it may, I see this as a huge positive for the Jets on both accounts. I think the inclusion of Wheeler and the rejection on Byfuglien will motivate the players to the next level. We shall see... 

Tonight marks the start of 2014 schedule and the Jets open on the road in Ottawa. The Sens have had a crazy season and are falling far short of expectations. Early season prognosticators had them not only in the playoffs, but challenging for the conference title.  Now they are in a dog fight for the playoffs and have a full blown goalie controversy on their hands. If they want to save their season, they should give the net to Robin Lehner and trace pending free agent Craig Anderson while they can still get some value for him.  

The Jets have won three in a row and have made up serious ground on Minnesota (who are free falling again) but are still a bit behind Dallas and Phoenix. They have to pass all three to make the playoffs so winning tonight can tie them with the Wild and then they can focus on the next team in front of them. The top two lines for the Jets are heating up at the same time and they will need more of that tonight as they head to the nations capital. Jacob Trouba is taking his game to another level and fellow rookie Mark Scheifele is now entrenched as the #2 center and has found some chemistry with Evander Kane. Scheifele can't score at home so look for him to bury one tonight. I looks like it will be Al Montoya versus Anderson tonight, which is the exact opposite of what I would have assumed. Should be an interesting night.

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