JGD 11: On the Road Again

Kevin McCartney
October 24 2013 01:48PM

After game 4, Claude Noel cautioned against concern by telling us that he looks at the season in five-game segments, with the reasonable goal to win 3 of each 5. A 2-3-1 record on the team's home stand means the Jets have fallen below expectations on each of Noel's 5-game segments to start the year and remain three points down on their target. A modest gap.

It's early in the season to be talking in absolutes, but the Jets are entering a critical part of their schedule - four games on the road, five straight against Divisional opponents, and ten straight against Western Conference teams. If the Jets fall short of their goal in the next ten games, we could be talking about a new coach or even the Draft by Rememberance Day. 

There are signs of improvement, and whether you believe in math or eyeballs, the Jets played their best game of the season against the Capitals. But as the Hip would say, it can't be Nashville every night.

Okay, I admit - that's a confusing metaphor when used to suggest a team might play poorly in Nashville.

Lines

All lines from DailyFaceoff.com 

I want you all to know that I won some money on our last Draft Street free league, and I've invested a slice of it tonight into a salary cap team in a one-day league. Why do you care? Because the salary cap forced me into taking Grant Clitsome. It's a hat trick or I'm out $2 I got for free. So we all have to love Grant Clitsome today.

Jets Forwards

  • Ladd - Little - Setoguchi
  • Kane - Scheifele - Wheeler
  • Halischuk - Jokinen - Frolik
  • Wright - Cormier - Peluso

It's not a surprise the bottom-6 is getting mixed a little. Despite dominating the Capitals, the bottom-6 went -6 with 11PIMs on the night, and continued to be a problem.

I guess the coach really liked Cormier's two minutes in that Washington matchup. That's not a penalty total - he got 7 of those minutes. That's a TOI. 

Cormier is centering what might be the worse line the Jets have put out in three years. I would rather Tim Stapleton centred Tanner Glass and Aaron Gagnon. I know some people have joined the Peluso camp, but I haven't been convinced just yet.

I don't think he's a goon - not at all. He's clearly in the Ryan Reeves tree of St Louis tough guys. He's not lost, he doesn't take stupid penalties, and he picks his moments. He makes a few plays, even. I think he's also too slow to play the Jets' transition, and has the sort of hands that his 1 or 2 chances to make something happen every game go wasted. He math results are poor and by eye, he takes long wristers when he's cut off at the line, and he's too slow to get from the corner to the front on the re-cycle to the point. He's a necessary evil on a team with limited depth, and he's not even the worst player on his line this game. Still, I think he gets a boost simply by exceeding expectations. If you put "Wheeler" on his jersey, we would be in tears at how bad he is. (Okay, maybe another poor example)

That said, the team does better when the fourth line doesn't play. Halischuk had 4 minutes and Peluso under 10 in that Capitals game. So maybe the plan is just not to play that three-some. 

Meanwhile, Matt Halischuk is being given a chance to make an impact. He has one assist and is -4 through seven games. He's been almost exclusively on the 4th line, and his best partner has been James Wright according to the WoWY numbers. Just 2 games ago, his ice time was over 11 minutes. His benching was likely a blip, and we can look for that third line to bring a lot of speed. Anything else is probably too much to ask for.

Those top two lines have stay together for good reason.

Jets Defence 

  • Clitsome - Byfuglien
  • Enstrom - Bogosian
  • Stuart - Postma
  • Pavelec
  • Montoya

Pavelec starts again to start the 10 game Western conference swing. Man! I really wish we had an eastern conference game to break up the schedule so we could play the back-up goalie! Shucks. 

Daily Faceoff is also reporting via Ted Wyman that Stuart is back in. Sometimes it feels like Noel isn't watching the same team I am. It's frustrating. Pardy was a better defender, and more importantly, Noel didn't ask too much of him as he has Stuart. Back to the panicking puck-fencer...

That Grant Clitsome sure is good, though. I think I read somewhere that he's going to get a hat trick!

Enstrom and Bogosian are now the team's shut-down pair, showing absolutely no imagination from Noel. One offensive pair, one defensive pair, one pair to put out in the worst possible moments just to keep games close. Tobias Enstrom might be the team's most successful offensive defenceman. Byfuglien carries and scores a lot, but he's always done better at that with Enstrom setting him up and organizing the offence (not to mention covering for him). 

It's a classic coaching problem of putting two players in positions in which they're not stand-out bad, rather than working to find a way to put each in a position to succeed. Clitsome was terrible as a shut down guy, so Enstrom (and the team) suffer. 

Depth. Please, oh great powerful General Manager, depth.

Predators Forwards

This group hung three goals in a period on us last week, so no laughing. They have four good lines.

  • Wilson - Legwand - Hornqvist
  • Bourque - Cullen - Smith
  • Stalberg - Spaling - Forsberg
  • Nystrom - Gaustad - Hendricks

Eric Nystrom had been playing pretty big minutes for the Preds this season. But likely a leaky balloon, just slowly sinking down the lineup. He's in the spot he should be now, along side another effort player in Hendricks. 

That means Stalberg got the promotion to play with Forsberg. The heart of the lineup is still that second line, centred by the always under-appreciated Matt Cullen. That line is dominating possession play at even strength, setting up chances, and ending their shifts with the puck in the opposition end. Craig Smith also leads the team with 6 points in 10 games. 

Meanwhile, the top line has combined for 15 points, but are also -5. Well, to be fair, David Legwand is -5. 

Mike Fisher remains out, and the Predators already have better centre depth than the Jets. It's just filthy. It's like they're making custom versions of two-way centres for sale on Etsy. 

Predators Defence

  • Jones - Weber
  • Ekholm - Klein
  • Bartley - Ellis
  • Hutton 
  • Hellberg

This has become a mess for the Predators. This defence group has lost so many talented players over the years. Hamhuis, Franson, and Suter are the biggest names, of course. But also Jonathan Blum in in Minnesota now, Teemu Laakso left for Russia and is now playing in Finland, and this year Roman Josi is out due to a concussion. It's a defenceman factory, but it's running out of raw materials.

Seth Jones has been exceptionally good, and he and Weber are playing close to 25 minutes a game already this season. How long can an 18 year old do that in his first pro season? I bet the Predators find that out empirically. 

Worse, Pekka Rinne has been diagnosed with a spontaneous hip infection, and will miss four weeks. I'm sure Jo Innes will eventually explain how that happens to a person, and it will be gross.

Carter Hutton faced the Jets in their game last week and stopped 38 of 39 shots. He's likely up to the task again, should the Predators limit real scoring chances as they did in the previous match up. But a month without Rinne is the kind of opportunity the Jets need to seize in order to climb the Divisional ladder.

Worth Reading Today

We have so much stuff up on the site today! Writers be writin'.

Don't forget, you can still win an Official Winnipeg Jets golf bag on the site for another 6 days. Go to jetsnation.ca/contest to enter.

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Kevin is a regular contributor to Jets Nation. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, The Sporting News, and around the Nations Network. An enthusiastic over-analyst, his background and interests are diverse, but you might notice he's obsessed with hockey. Track him down on twitter @kevinmccart
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#1 The Keystone Garter
October 24 2013, 07:44PM
Trash it!
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Exhausting evening with 4 leagues going. Don't care much for either WS team. I'd get my rundowns if instead of a balk, a pitcher could cancel out the balk step by first relaying the ball to first base. Or perhaps home plate. Pathetic Redsox phantom out weeks back. Argos might benefit from weak division. Bombers finally start Sims-Walker; just have him run the same route if he doesn't know the playbook. His cut is natural athleticism. Some players stop to pivot, but S-W had already made up his mind to cut inside and his power was already channeling inside while he was momentarily stopped. Need more than an arm to tackle that. If Mack didn't get the CFL game, he should've been purged. The coach not going for it with 30 seconds left was inexcusible; like a CJOB caller said: you get to mid-field, you can trickle a punt in. Should've played Goltz in the wet game, but BC still with the field advantage. Jets are good with drafting and acquiring depth players, but not good with top two lines and four D. Nashville and Cgy prolly two most boring matchups: but if you're the Preds you want to give kids a playoff shot. Jets should be sizing up a deadline acquisition, but no cap-room. I've got Frolik as a 2.5 liner, and Jokinen as a 4th liner this yr, minor leaguer last year. In the playoffs maybe closer...the bubble dome is 9x cheaper than the Maples soccer field, and with BC and Ontario stuck at 4 downs, it would make Wpg the 3 down capital of Canada. Enjoy your robberies, muggings and car thefts, rich-Peggers.

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#2 The Keystone Garter
October 24 2013, 07:49PM
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The bubble would've been useful for emergency shelters, winter greenhouses, emergency pandemic field hospitals. Still in the middle of nowhere. And now I can't go to the game or bird watch on the rocks before the game. Clitsome's contract is okay, but Hainsey at the same contract is better value for playoffs. No one in the Jet blogosphere is rewarding games played. They make Bogosian sound like Pronger. He is a Beauchemin; a good player. West is stacked with top tier teams, but East a better first round palate.

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