December 05 2013 02:51PM
Photo from Winnipeg White Out
A return to Atlanta’s old stomping grounds seems like the perfect setting for a film about coming of age in a world of high expectations and delayed maturity. The Jets turn 30 today (sort of), and despite recent additions to the ‘W’ column, questions persist about whether the Jets are really turning a corner. I picture Maggie Gyllenhaal telling The Jet (the adapted Thrasher from the awful Guardian Project, obviously) that he needs to grow up at the very moment he is most confused about how. Cue the montage.
The pressing question for the Jets is one of process over results. This coach called a 15-shot game of give-away a ‘success’ in a game 3 loss to Minnesota. In game 29, the Jets’ coach was once again happy enough with the score that he didn’t want to pry into the process too much. An unlikely performance by a second line with Chris Thorburn on his off-wing overshadowed another tough game for Mark Stuart and Mark Scheifele, and created hope where it shouldn’t otherwise be.
Our protagonist is facing the ghosts of his past with an uncertain future. Will The Jet stop measuring himself against others and start trying to be his best version of himself??
I haven’t seen official lines yet, but Noel likes to stick with his lineup when it wins, so I’m predicting the same lines as in New York.
- Ladd – Little – Wheeler
- Thorburn – Jokinen – Setoguchi
- Halischuk – Scheifele – Frolik
- Wright – Albert – Peluso
I didn’t get to see the Rangers game, so it’s hard for me to comment on that second line. Perhaps this makes me stubborn, but I refuse to believe it was anything more than good bounces against a team with poor defence and playing their backup goalie.
Florida isn’t a great challenge in general, obviously, but it may be that the bounces dry up. Thorburn is better than we often give him credit for at a few things – getting the puck to the end boards, making contact, and creating chaos. It’s entirely possible that tactic is actually effective for this line. Kane does some similar things, and the line was been creating a lot. Which brings me to what I think is central to their success – Setoguchi has been creating a river of offence with the results barely trickling through. We’ve talked often about how the numbers were bound to come as the percentages evened out, and I think it’s possible the Ranger game was partly a corrective in the results rather than a signifier of a successful process. We will see, I suppose.
- Enstrom – Byfyuglien
- Clitsome - Trouba
- Stuart – Ellerby
Young Trouba's reviews are only getting more positive as the season wears on. I think the simple truth is that he really only looked *bad* when paired with Stuart. With Bogosian, and thankfully with Clitsome, he looks like a very capable young defender.
He's still making mistakes, but he's a positive contributor on the whole.
I think the sad truth about this defence group is that there is a clear ability gap between Adam Pardy and Mark Stuart. Pardy has been a 7th and 8th man on poor clubs in the past (Calgary, Dallas), and that he can be said to be better than Stuart is damning to the Jets and their efforts to win games. We can hope that he's the one to come out when Bogosian comes back, but he is sinking Ellerby at the moment (as he did with Trouba and others), and has the coach's trust for reasons we may never understand.
- Huberdeau - Bjugstad - Upshall
- Fleischmann - Goc - Kopecy
- Bergenheim - Barkov - Boyes
- Hayes - Matthias - Barch
This is a club that has already fired their coach and traded Kris Versteeg for essentially future assets (though both Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes are on the roster). They've been rebuilding as long as the Thrashers, and Tallon's decision to re-tool through free agency a couple years ago is all but forgotten.
This forward group features four prospects, more than any NHL roster likely should. This cautionary tale has 7 wins in 28 games, and isn't at the bottom of their Division thanks to another prospect squad in Buffalo.
Scottie Upshall leads this group in scoring with 15 points, thanks to a streak of 10 in 10. That should be embarassing to the rest of the team and the State of Florida.
Brad "Trade Bait" Boyes has 13 points so far. Sadly, he won't be waived and the Jets haven't figured out how to fix the phone in Kevin Cheveldayoff's office, so he will go to a competitor at the deadline no doubt.
It's undisciplined group in terms of defence, and they have a pathetic 3.25 goals against per game average. The Jets have to avoid a run and gun style, however, and prove they can close out games against lesser teams through structure and control. You can move on to the next section when you're done laughing.
- Campbell - Gilbert
- Gudbranson - Olsen
- Kulikov - Weaver
Brian Campbell continues to be the best player on a terrible team. He's tied for the team lead in points. His partner Tom Gilbert leads the team in plus/minus at +2. For context, Kulikov was a recent healthy scratch after dropping to a team worst -13 in the same stat on the same team.
Tim Thomas came back from the Olympics, which means we should all have a good laugh when he quits in the New Year. His 2.96/.904% is unlikely to get him an invite. Plus, the chance that he joins a Russian militia during the Games is reportedly a determing factory.
The Jets should win this game going away, but the on-ice process during this road trip leaves a lot to be desired. The Panthers can score, and Thomas can steal games, so the Jets need to play the game in the Panthers' end with control and show a winning instinct from start to finish. If they let Florida hang around too long, they risk an upset. As usual, a lot of the game depends on the Jets' first period. They've been escaping that first 20 on the back of goaltending and luck. At some point they'll have to show up for a 1st period if they want to win.