A few years ago Dennis Green, then coach of the Arizona Cardinals, gave one of the best rants in pro sports history. While the tirade doesn’t completely relate to the Winnipeg Jets, it always makes me laugh. And really isn’t that worth clicking on the link?
Before the Jets land in Arizona they have some business to attend to in Chicago. By the time Winnipeggers invade the Coyotes arena and turn it into another home game for the Jets, they could realistically be 0-2. Chicago is a very explosive team, Winnipeg is not.
It was only one game, but the loss on Sunday was, I believe, a microcosm for the entire season. No they will not be hammered 5-1 every game, but they will be challenged to score goals. They did not have a single 30 goals scorer last year and I would predict the same to occur this year. (Ladd was close with 29) They did have the leading goal scoring defenseman but that will be a tough task for Dustin Byfuglien to repeat.
In fact, looking at the top scoring defensemen last year is an interesting study. Take Lubomir Visnovsky for example. He scored 18,15,8,8,18, & 17 goals in the last six seasons. One of those 8 goals seasons was affected by injury. Shea Weber has posted 16,16,23,6, & 17 goals in the last five years. Brent Burns is all over the map with 17,3,8,15,7, & 4 goals since being converted from forward. Even the first ballot hall of famer Nik Lidstrom is prone to variance, as he has posted 16,9,16,10,13, & 16 goals in the last six seasons. Now you may think that the difference between 16 and 9 isn’t that much on the surface but imagine if the whole Detroit team scored 44% less goals for the season? I don’t think they would make the playoffs with that performance.
The difference of course between Detroit and Winnipeg is that they have the offensive firepower to make up those 7 goals. Anything less than the 30 goals that Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom combined to score are going to be a problem for the Jets to makeup. It’s not all doom and gloom as there are some young players who should be better this year. I would expect more from Burmistrov, Kane and Wheeler. When Fehr comes back from injury he will join Ladd, Little, and Antropov as veterans who can chip in as well. Unfortunately I wouldn’t classify any of them as snipers. Most if not all of them are solid “two-way” players who are a good core to build around.
The brass tacks is this; they are going to be in very tough to make the playoffs. Everything has to go right for them to do it as it did for the first 40 games last year. Atlanta fell short of the playoffs by quite a large margin and they really didn’t do much to improve this team over the summer. That of course really isn’t the point for this season though. This year is all about the return of a team to a starving fan base and building towards something better in the future.
In talking to a friend of mine who was fortunate enough to be one of the few who was at the game on Sunday, he had the perfect quote that summed up the experience. “Yes it sucks the Jets lost but at least we were not watching the Moose vs the Hamilton Bulldogs”.