JGD 12: Lone Star

Kevin McCartney
October 26 2013 02:26PM

The good guys are in the Lone Star State tonight. Their focus is on the here and now - a desperately needed 'W' and some respect in the Division. We're left looking for suspects in the making of another frustrating season for the Jets.  

Looking at the Scoring Chances from the Nashville game, we saw Noel move around the lines after the first period and go 29 minutes without an even strength chance. Rhys commented that the blendering may be part of the problem at this point, and it's hard to disagree.

Pavelec is pointing fingers at the play in front of him, while his numbers continue to sink.

Cheveldayoff hasn't addressed the depth on the club, despite playing teams like Nashville, Chicago, St Louis, and even Dallas, who all have tremendous depth to go with their high-end skill.

The shine is falling off Kane and Byfuglien as the scoring dries up, and last year's top line has lost its luster already. Tobias Enstrom is perhaps the 'lone star' of another sort. 

It's a complicated plot with no clear good guy or bad guy. Everyone's doing their job but it's starting to feel like there might a skeleton in the closet here. Going after a high draft pick? Budget problems? Too much hope and not enough realism in the front office? A disconnect between coach and manager?

I think John Sayles would approve.

Lines

Lines come from DailyFaceoff.com

Jets Forwards

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

Kane is apparently dealing with a flu, and is a game time decision. He missed the skate to hydrate and rest. The other healthy forward the Jets have to replace him? Chris Thorburn. If that happens, you might consider going out with your partner for Saturday night. 

In broad strokes, this top six has done well. Points in each of their last two games, and impressive play by Blake Wheeler are both positives with these lines. The Ladd/Little duo continue to be effective as well.

Still, scoring chances from last game show the second line was badly outplayed. Kane was -4 at even strength alone. And though we can be happy Peluso and co. scored, the ice was still tilted against while they were out there. The line only managed a single scoring chance and were way behind in shot attempts (Peluso was -5 in that). In fact, they had the worst corsi % on the team.

I think fans are starting to have sympathy for the team's struggling coach in some sense. Who can he play? He might try riding his top-8 a little harder, and putting all of Ladd, Little, and Kane over 20 minutes a night. But it's not a long-term solution. 

It's getting ugly.

Jets Defense

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

Correct me if this sounds impossible, but I think we might be seeing why Grant Clitsome was ever on waivers in the first place. He had an excellent season last year and no one can take that away from him. But his play is a serious problem for the team this year. Without Ron Hainsey to play the tough minutes, and against deeper teams in the West, Grant Clitsome is getting worked. 

Last game, he and Byfuglien were on for 10 and 12 even strength scoring chances against respectively. That's not bad, that's horrifying. 

This team needs another top-4 defender, and while Clitsome does just fine by possession metrics, he simply can't play up to that role currently. Part of it is luck, of course. When things go wrong, bounces and small errors are part of that.

Still, he turns into pressure in his own zone and his turnovers are a constant problem. Why he doesn't read the pressure correctly is not clear. But for a defenceman liked by math who has obvious puck skills, we might finally see what has kept him out of the top-4 on other clubs. 

Enstrom is making Bogosian and effective tough minutes defender. He's the best defenceman the Jets have. Please stay healty, Tobias. 

Pavelec gets the start again. So, Montoya starts against Colorado tomorrow then? Right coach? Coach?

Stars Forwards

  • Benn - Seguin - Peverly
  • Whitney - Eakin - Chiasson
  • Nichushkin - Horcoff - Cole
  • MacDermid - Fiddler - Roussel

In this pre-game presser, Claude Noel highlighted the speed of this group, and of the top line in particular, citing the need for better team play to counter it. He's not wrong - this group beat the Jets with 4 skilled goals in 25 minutes when they came to the MTS Centre, and until they retreated into a Prevent defense, they controlled the play and puck. 

Benn leads the team in scoring with 11 points in 9 games, while Seguin has 10, and Chiasson 9. 

But the Stars have more than just speed - they also have a lot of size. And experience. And depth down the middle. 

I joked last time around that the team had organized its lines to have a veteran and someone over 200lbs on each line. Sadly, the joke was on us.

The Stars haven't been very good this season, though, despite the convincing win in Winnipeg. Their forward group hasn't changed much, but their defense pairings continue to be shuffled. That's owing to going 2-4-0 since beating the Jets, and 4-5-0 on the season.

This team has a lot going for it on paper. On the ice? They have a 15% powerplay, a sub-80% PK, and are being outshot by 5 shots a game on average. They're 20th in Goals For per game, and 26th in Goals Against. 

This is a team that everyone knew should be at the bottom of the Central Division, and they're living up to that hype. The Jets have to get points against this Division rival. 

Stars Defense

  • Dillon - Robidas
  • Daley - Gonchar
  • Goligoski - Benn
  • Lehtonen
  • Ellis

Dillon - Robidas is the the team's tough minutes pairing, and has done well since being put together. Dillon is +6 in his last four games while playing well over 20 minutes a night. 

But he's on that top line, getting all those minutes because both Gonchar and Goligoski are having miserable seasons. They have each been sheltered, but continue to bleed shot attempts attempts. And neither have been scoring - part of the reason the PP is so ineffective. They have a single point between them.

One wrinkle to the Stars' season is that Lehtonen has only played in 4 of their 8 games. He has three of their wins on an amazing 1.41 GAA and .956 sv%. Meanwhile, back-up Dan Ellis and call-up Jack Campbell are both struggling below the .900 sv% mark. 

Of course, Lehtonen is healthy in time to play the Jets again. 

 

Hit us up in the comments if you want to talk Jets-Stars tonight. Or if you want to talk about the historical efforts to maintain the independent republic of Texas and its role in shaping the modern culture of statism. We're your one-stop shop for all things Texas tonight. 

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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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