JGD 29: Jumping the Shark

Kevin McCartney
December 02 2013 01:37PM

 

Our title today came from some of the twitter fallout over news that Chris Thorburn is skating in Evander Kane's place on the second line, and John Albert - not Eric O'Dell - has been recalled. Of course, the phrase is a long standing reference to the episode of Happy Days in which the Fonz water-skied over a shark, signaling to audiences that the show was out of ideas and had lost its original charm. 

For that reason, I typed "jumped the shark" into google images. That decision would change all our lives, as this article immediately became a platform for a contest to determine which image from that search is the absolute worst ever. 

Shark Jumping

At first I thought it was a take on The Gingerbread Man with a shark instead of a fox, and a blind but heroic cupcake as the protagonist. Nope. Someone just thinks cupcake making has gone too far and decided to illustrate their point with a rare Great White river shark. Because, you know, a cupcake making a jumping motion in the ocean would be ridiculous.

Warning: New photoshop user.

Further Warning: Unintentionally, homunculi are shown to rule the state and a debate using Faust about the nature of humanity breaks out. Is Congress truly Human if they can live collectively as the head of Henry Winkler? This simple absurdity might unravel the fabric of our society. (And yes, he wore the leather jacket to water-ski in the episode)

 

Uuuggghhh. This is definitely stickered on a surfboard in Australia by someone who's never heard of Happy Days.

Speaking of unraveling, this bit of circular irony could end hipsterism as we know it. Picture young people everywhere collapsing to whichever side their asymmetrical haircut leans. 

This is as awesome as it is confusing. 

Someone made this image just so that they could use it to criticize people for being literal about a phrase that has no literal meaning. That's the 'jumping the shark' of time wasting. 

Lines

What? You thought that was all the misery you had to endure? No, no, no! We haven't even looked at the Jets' line up!

Jets Forwards

  • Ladd - Little - Wheeler
  • Thorburn - Jokinen - Setoguchi
  • Halischuk - Schiefele - Frolik
  • Wright - Albert - Peluso

Very honestly, I do not have any words to describe the outrageous insanity that is this lineup. Eric Tangradi - a left winger, the team's leader in corsi numbers, a guy who out-played Wright last season, and the only 4th liner with more than one point - is a healthy scratch. He's a healthy scratch so that James Wright can move back to the wing after being much better at centre, so that Chris Thorburn can move to his off-wing, and so that Anthony Peluso can participate. 

Putting Tangradi on the second line - the obvious choice - would have left the team with a Thorburn - Wright - Peluso 4th line. In other words, and unplayable fourth line. Instead of dealing with that, the coach simply put (possibly) his worst player on his second line on the wing he doesn't play to spread out the suck. Makes perfect sense, right?

The next part of this lineup is just as shocking. To make it work, he needed to bring up a centre. The team chose a player with 8 points in 23 farm games this season, and a minus rating. The team chose a 24 year old non-prospect with 40 points in 111 career AHL games. They chose John Albert. 

I cannot pretend to understand the message this sends in the organization, but it can't be positive. The IceCaps' next game is December 6th. John Albert was not among the last cuts from camp, he hasn't outplayed anyone, and he isn't a prospect with a bright future. Eric O'Dell was at least two of those things, and the team has spent zero time trying to find out if he's the third. 

Look for Frolik, Ladd, and Wright to all get a lot of extra ice after the 10 minute mark, and the line blender will be out all night.

Claude Noel loves to handicap himself and then have to coach his way out of a hole. I think it makes for a better narrative in the post-game. "Yeah, we lost, but after the first period, we really had a lot of effort and will." 

Jets Defence

  • Enstrom - Byfuglien
  • Stuart - Ellerby
  • Clitsome - Trouba
  • Pavelec
  • Montoya

I commented on twitter that cheering for the Jets can feel like loving a team with low self-esteem. Why would any team put out those 18 skaters? It's as though management doesn't feel the team deserves to win. 

When Cheveldayoff and Noel had meetings in the off-season and thought, 'what will we do when injury hits?' (as it does for all teams every season), could their answer REALLY have been to elevate Mark Stuart and call up whoever the IceCaps third best centre is?

I've written before that the team's inconsistency on the ice stems from a poor game plan. In my view, the coach's inability or unwillingness to give his team a plan they can execute for 60 minutes is the top reason they don't execute for 60 minutes. 

We can't know everything that happens behind closed doors. All we can do is look for little hints about how the organization thinks. Despite this being just one game, just one lineup card, the team's inability or unwillingness to prepare appropriately for an injury that occured three days ago is a tell.

This road trip was supposed to furnish the team with more points and new confidence, but the coach allowed the team to get away with two poorly organized wins, came out unprepared in game three, and now is icing a Hindenburg of a lineup in game four. 

Rangers Forwards

  • Kreider - Stepan - Nash
  • Richards - Brassard - Callahan
  • Hagelin - Moore - Zuccarello
  • Pouliot - Boyle - Dorsett

The Rangers have been a hot mess this season. A ghastly start gave way to two major injuries to Nash and Callahan, during which they lost to Buffalo. Forever unclean! 

Without either Nash or Callahan, they went 3-5-0, which accounts for some of their fall from grace as a sexy pre-season dark horse pick. They're just an ugly, graceless, regular-shade of horse now. 

Somehow their record just keeps bobbing up and down. With Nash, the team is only 5-4-0. Even the recent excitement about their play has come on a 3-2-0 five game run, with wins over the mighty Panthers, Predators, and Canucks, and loses to the Bruins and Lightning. 

In other words, they remain a very beatable group despite the return of Rick Nash. 

Brad Richards has returned to form, with a positive corsi rating and a team leading 19 points in 27 games. Kreider is having the season everyone in the Rangers' organization has been waiting and hoping for as well - 16 points, a hugely positive corsi rating, and some physical play. Early hold out Derek Stepan's game is improving, and he currently has a team leading 10 powerplay points.

Mats Zuccarello has turned into a powerplay specialist for the Rangers - something the Jets employed in year 1 and could use again. He has 7 powerplay points to go along with 8 even strength points. 

Alain Vigneault has used a lot of different lines and pairings this season, including 18 different forwards playing a game in the first third of the season. Because of that, it's a bit hard to tell who is playing what kind of minutes from aggregate totals.

What we do know is that Vigneault loves zone start advantages, and he's at it again in New York. Brad Richards is just shy of having a 70% / 30% offensive zone to defensive zone start split. Carl Hagelin leads the team at 76%. For context and comparison, Anthony Peluso leads the Jets with a 60% offensive zone start advantage.

Vigneault uses zone starts to give his scorers time in the offensive zone. Noel uses it to shelter bad players. We've seen from Travis's zone entry numbers that the Jets create just as much from defensive zone draws as offensive zone draws. I suspect we'd see a different story from New York's numbers. 

Rangers Defence

  • Girardi - McDonagh
  • Staal - Stralman
  • Falk - Del Zotto
  • Talbot
  • Lundqvist

Girardi and McDonagh play the tough minutes, and not by a small margin. We're talking worst zone starts, toughest opponents night in and night out. They're not successful at it, though. They're wildly in the hole for shot attempt numbers.

Meanwhile, all the talk of Del Zotto's poor season looks by numbers to be a combination of bad luck and Justin Falk being horrible. But one might say that about Grant Clitsome by the numbers, and we know that players can give up scoring chances and still be in the positive side of the corsi ledger. We'll have to see for ourselves tonight. 

That said, the Jets only have one line tonight, and no doubt Girardi/McDonagh will be out against it. It's possible the Jets don't have the scoring depth to exploit a struggling blueline and back up goalie. 

The ways this team finds to put points in jeopardy is just silly. 

Worth Reading Today

  • Ross Smith's latest piece on Jets fandom might be the silver lining on today in Jets Nation, and might be the perfect antidote to a Claude Noel coached game.
  • Matt Eichel stirred the pot a little when he argued that Evander Kane doesn't care about winning or the Jets. Give it a read and join the comment thread.
  • Did you read about how great the Jets' fourth line is in The Friday Five-Hole? You should.
  • I put together a 'Best Of November' article. We did some neat stuff that month. Check it out.
  • Arctic Ice Game Day! (It wasn't updated by the time I posted this, but just hit refresh like, 1,000 times.)
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Kevin is the Managing Editor of 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 or @nhljetsnation
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#1 ScottOCanada
December 02 2013, 04:30PM
Trash it!
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Maybe, just maybe, this is a stroke of genius. Maybe us leamings simply can't recognize the genius. Maybe this is what will finally turn this team around. I can see it now, "The December to Remember". I mean Thorburn on the second line. Brilliant. Absolute brilliance at its finest. Well paint me white and call me simple, why didn't I think of that. Because I'm not a genius, that's why not.

C'mon man. Is that the best byproduct of the weekend strategy sessions they could cobble together. Whatever ...

Oh, gotta go ...either my daughter is burning her toast or I'm about to have a seizure. Good lucks Jets, you may need it.

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#2 Justin
December 02 2013, 09:17PM
Trash it!
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So, John Albert scores a goal and Thorburn picks up two assists in the win, making fools of us cynics.

Still, I hope nobody takes a few lucky breaks as proof positive of their genius.

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#3 Travis Hrubeniuk
December 03 2013, 07:28AM
Trash it!
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Justin wrote:

So, John Albert scores a goal and Thorburn picks up two assists in the win, making fools of us cynics.

Still, I hope nobody takes a few lucky breaks as proof positive of their genius.

If Kane comes back and the Jets lose, feces will hit the fan.

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#4 Mo
December 03 2013, 10:44AM
Trash it!
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Tangradi would have been a perfect fit on 2nd line - the kid has talent, size, heart, toughness, passes well etc. - but we'll put Thorburn there instead - brilliant !!! That's like the Flyers putting Rosehill on their 2nd line - bfffft !!! It may have appeared those moves worked out well last night but we all know a broken clock is correct twice a day too. Tangradi needs to play without the short leash - the kid is 'money' when the chips are down.

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