December 24 2013 12:21AM
"Just let me lay here a while... I'm so tired."
Christmas is in the air, everyone, and it's a time for joy and peace! What a pleasurable game to watch, knowing our close friends and allies on the other side of Saskatchewan were there to celebrate with us.
And that's all the positivity I can muster spent in two sentences.
December 23 2013 06:58PM
The other day we looked at how the Jets' coaching staff uses their forwards. We found a lot of what we already knew - that line matching is inconsistent or missing, that Matt Halischuk is not a top-9 quality forward in that environment, and that the fourth line is both a mess and comes with an opportunity cost when Noel gives that group offensive zone starts to shelter them further. We also looked at a chart by Tyler Dellow that found the bottom-6 forwards and bottom-3 defence dragged down anyone they played with.
I spend a lot of time talking about the end of the roster in my work. You might think that I believe they're more important than the big minute players. Instead, I hope you'll see it as a balance to a lot of what I hear in the mainstream press, in the comments sections of various online sources, and on twitter.
One of the most prominent messages taken on by Jets fans is that the team should trade star defender Dustin Byfuglien. He makes too many mistakes, he's not engaged enough, they'll say. But there is a whole stream of criticism that goes 'Buf can do anything he wants on the ice because of his size, strength, speed, and puck control. So why doesn't he just score every shift!? Trade the bum!' (Some editorial license taken.)
Below we'll look at what Dustin Byfuglien is and I hope it's obvious just how completely irreplaceable he is to this team. He's not perfect - far from it - but he is far and away the best defender this team has. I contend that he's PK Subban with less help, Erik Karlsson with less fanfare, or at worst a rich man's James Wisniewski. His only crime is not being Chris Pronger or Ray Bourque.
December 23 2013 04:44PM
Things in Oil Country are getting dark. A recent 6-0 loss to St Louis started with a dominating first period by the Oilers (you read that correctly), but ended with a fan throwing his or her jersey on the ice in dismay. Poor goaltending, puck focused defence, and a methodical pace over the back 40 minutes was just too much for that Oilers fan, now going on 8 years removed from the playoffs.
The Oilers have had five head coaches since Sam Gagner's rookie year, and three General Managers (oh, and Kevin Lowe the whole time). Their current GM Craig MacTavish promised impatience and followed up by overhauling much of the team in a single summer. When the rebuild started with talk of Chicago and Pittsburgh, the whispers of Atlanta and Columbus circled the team as well, and that conversation has reappeared in the wake of a resounding loss. So much of this indeterminate process is by feel for fans, but to me it feels like this season is the moment we find out if this team will turn the corner. They've lost the playoffs already, but still have half a season to show their impatience with losing. It's already coming in fits and starts.
Meanwhile, the Jets continue to confound any notion of a window of opportunity. The team is several drafts away from a 'full' prospect cupboard, and their best players are entering or already into their primes. And yet, the General Manager continues to wait and evaluate and show patience. No one is sure if he intends to waste the good years of his top players with a coach whose expertise seems to be in finding ways to lose, or if there is a plan in place to win while Andrew Ladd is captain and Toby Enstrom is healthy.
There is a lot of coal to give out in both organizations this holiday, but I wonder if they couldn't find a trade that might help both clubs. Perhaps Craig MacTavish for Kevin Cheveldayoff?
December 23 2013 11:24AM
“Advanced” statistics such as Fenwick, Corsi, and scoring chances can often display the natural trends and occurrences of a game, usually syncing up with the “eye test” of your average viewer. The first period of the game between the Canucks and Jets was not one of those circumstances.
December 23 2013 11:20AM
If you ever wanted to pick out a game in particular to highlight the questionable decision making of Claude Noel, this was it. Poor decision followed by poor decision likely cost the Jets at least a point in this game, and I personally am getting sick of it. Changes need to be made.