JGD 52: DON'T LET THORNTON SCORE FOUR

Rhys Finnick
January 23 2014 03:06AM

 

Odd photo by Dinur.

Two nights after stealing a rare road win from the league-best Anaheim Ducks, the Jets head (slightly) north to face the always dangerous San Jose Sharks. Jets fans remember well the last time these two teams met back on November 10th, when captain Andrew Ladd was able to win an exciting, back and forth affair in the shootout at the MTS Centre.

When you're hot, you're hot, and the Jets are hot, but they may find just as big of a challenge waiting for them in San Jose as they did in Anaheim.

The Sharks share similar numbers with Anaheim so far this season:

 

 

Goals

Goals Against

PP%

PK%

Sharks

153

118

19.4

82.8

Ducks

175

125

19.0

81.9

 

San Jose may not score as much as Anaheim, but they certainly defend better. Their defensive corps contains a healthy mix of shut-down specialists and puck-movers, and almost every forward is a talented two-way player.

As pointed out by our own Travis Hrubeniuk, the Jets were able to beat the Ducks mainly because of puck luck. Most of Winnipeg's scoring chances came from sloppy neutral zone turnovers, bad passes, and forwards caught deep after a failed rush - in other words, predominantly defensive lapses.

The stingy Sharks are unlikely to offer up such presents to the Jets.

LINES

JETS FORWARDS

  • Ladd - Little - Frolik
  • Kane - Scheifele - Wheeler
  • Setoguchi - Jokinen - Byfuglien
  • Thorburn - O'Dell - Peluso

With the winning streak still going, Maurice is content to keep playing the same hand. Jets fans may not be so keen on this idea, and it was hard to not notice how the Jokinen line has gotten increasingly worse every game. Byfuglien's time at forward will inevitably end, but it may take a loss for Maurice to pull the trigger.

Kane's return sparked his line on Tuesday, and the top two lines were booming. It's hard to want anything more than their effort in the 3-1, so let's hope they push the pace early again tonight.

Call me crazy, but I'd say O'Dell has played well enough to move up to the third line. Move Buff back to D, promote O'Dell, dress Tangradi, and the Jets have an even stronger line-up.

JETS DEFENCE

  • Bogosian - Enstrom
  • Stuart - Trouba
  • Pardy - Ellerby

     

  • Pavelec
  • Montoya

Same case as the forwards - Maurice isn't going to change anything until it stops working. It came close in Anaheim.

The Bogo-'Stromy combination held their own very well against the dynamic duo of Perry and Getzlaf, and they'll have to be just as strong against the Sharks. Stuart had a decent game for him (so still quite bad), but we never quite know what we'll get from him and Trouba. Ellerby and Pardy were the weakest link the Jets' chain, so let's hope they can put up a better effort against a thinning Sharks forward corps.

Ondrej Pavelec kept the Jets in it against the Ducks, but he keeps giving us reasons to doubt him every game. He's still often out of position, over-committing, and giving up bad rebounds, but it's impossible to say when goals will be scored because of it. If he can stay calm and stay in his net, Pavelec will give his team a better chance to win.

SHARKS FORWARDS

  • Pavelski - Thornton - Burns
  • Nieto - Marleau - Wingels
  • Kearns - Desjardins - Kennedy
  • Sheppard - McCarthy - Hayes

Injuries to Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Raffi Torres thin this line-up out quite a bit, but there are threatening pieces nonetheless.

Joe Thornton is still going strong in his 17th NHL season, putting up 53 points in 50 games, good enough for 6th in the league. Joe Pavelski and Patrick "Disney's Captain Hook" Marleau's point production is only slightly behind Thornton's, with 50 and 47 points in as many games respectively. Brett Burns is thriving on the wing since his move to forward last season, and Tommy Wingels has already doubled his previous career season-high point total with 25 points.

As mentioned, the impact of injuries are a problem. San Jose has been forced to ice AHLers in Kearns, McCarthy, and Hayes between depth players like Kennedy and Sheppard. Evander Kane's return gives the Jets a solid top-nine forwards, and they could exploit the Sharks in this area.

SHARKS DEFENCE

  • Boyle - Irwin
  • Vlasic - Demers
  • Stuart - Braun
  • Niemi
  • Stalock

When they're on, the Sharks don't give up a lot of scoring chances. Anything that gets through to the net is either low or along the ice, and shots like that never get past Antti Niemi.

Boyle, Demers, and Vlasic are putting up good point totals for the Sharks, while Irwin, Stuart, and Braun help shut down the opposition effectively. This is a fast-paced defensive corps with a quick transition game. The Jets will have to forecheck fast and hard, or the puck will be back in their zone before they know it.

SUMMARY

This will be just as tough of a test as the Ducks were. San Jose can score in bunches, and have a handful of guys playing incredible hockey right now in Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Niemi, and Vlasic.

However, Winnipeg is firing at all cylinders too, and their potential edge in forward depth could help them grind out a win. The Jets scored four goals on the Sharks back in November, but that's a task that'll be hard to repeat. Winnipeg will need to play with a lot of patience, and take advantage of every opportunity they get.

 

 

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Rhys is an aspiring stand-up comedian and put up 29 points in 18 beer league games last year. He enjoys hockey, twitter (@Rhysus_Christ), and pretending like someone else wrote his bio for me.
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