Photo by Bugsy Sailor
It’s only game four, and despite a winning record, the locals are restless. It’s not without reason. At even strength, the Jets have been out shot 76-58, out Corsi’d 142-113, and simply out played. The penalty kill sits in the low 70’s. Despite the dieification of Pavelec, the team sits 19th in 5 on 5 goals against per 60 minutes. Any way you slice it, the team is struggling – except at scoring goals, where only the Sharks and Blues have been better.
Tonight, the Jets kick off back-to-back games in their first contests against Central Division opponents. The Minnesota Wild are to the Jets what George was to Opposite George. They’re doing everything right – leading the league in corsi% 5 on 5, second in shot differential, keeping the puck out of their net. The Wild are beating their opponents at even strength. But like regular George, they never score – averaging less than one goal per 60 minutes of 5 on 5 hockey. That’s less than a quarter of the Jets’ scoring rate.
Lines from Daily Faceoff
- Ladd – Little – Wheeler
- Kane – Scheifele – Setoguchi
- Tangradi – Jokinen – Frolik
- Wright – Slater – Halischuk
Halischuk draws in for his first game of the season. He’s been given a hilarious combo of linemates – the two players with the worst corsi % on the team, and the team has the 3rd worst corsi % league wide. Both are below 35% in that area 5 on 5, and are more parts problem than solution. Neither Thorburn nor Peluso have looked very good on that wing, and while Halischuk has the opportunity to show he’s better, we can’t expect objectively positive results.
The rest of the line-up stays the same. Unfortunately for the Jets, the top line is struggling to get the puck in the opposition’s end and keep it there, and are all sub-40% corsi players through three games. Last year, this threesome sawed-off against the best competition, and the Jets desperately need them to return to that performance level in order to stem the bleeding.
The KSS line have not been scored against at evens, and filled the net in game one and two. But in game three, they didn’t even manage a shot on goal.
The bottom line for the Jets is that they won two games against poor goaltending, and had no buisness being tied in the third against Anaheim. Game one in the Central Divsion has to be better.
- Enstrom – Byfuglien
- Clitsome – Bogosian
- Stuart – Trouba
Hey, this looks familiar. Clitsome has had another couple practices, and we can all hope his turnover troubles are behind him for now. The Stuart-Trouba pairing wasn’t a lot better, though, and Mark Stuart is having an October to forget (or remember in the dark moments before you fall asleep, depending on whether or not you’re a coach for the Jets).
Enstrom/Byfuglien have returned to being an exceptional pairing for the Jets and are the best by a wide margin for possession and territory metrics. Still, they have three goals against 5 on 5, and are still below 50% corsi %.
Pavelec will require some more consideration, but despite his huge save %, I’m not sure he deserves the accolades he has been earning. His rebound control remains a serious problem, and is creating chaos in the defensive zone. The Jets defence can’t make a breakout play while swatting the puck away from the front of the net, and at least in Anaheim, the opposition is creating chances on lobbing pucks from the blue line and attacking the loose puck that comes from it. To my eye – and again, more investigation is needed – Pavelec is not putting rebounds into safe or ‘regroup’ areas of the ice, and the Jets simply cannot gain control for a breakout play. The difference between Pavelec the hero and Pavelec the bum is a handful of saves at this point, and to me, his process hasn’t improved. The team needs to be better, of course, but the way we talk about goalies as a save/no save binary is flawed. Pav makes life harder on his defence.
Let’s hope I’m wrong. Everyone is entitled to a bad few periods.
- Parise – Koivu – Niederreiter
- Heatley – Granlund – Pominville
- Cooke – Brodziak – Fontaine
- Mitchell – Konopka – Veillieux
The Wild are 0-1-2 so far this year, and despite a very successful powerplay, simply cannot manage to score at 5 on 5. Their losses so far fall at the feet of this forward group.
Charlie Coyle is hurt and out for this contest, so the Wild have moved their lines aronnd a bit, including bringing back Stephan Veillieux, who I thought had fallen out of the NHL some time ago.
Minnesota’s youth is coming through a little so far, with Granlund recording three assists (he had 6 all of last year), and newly acquired Nino Niederreiter nabbing a couple points as well. Still, the team’s offence is led by Parise (3 goals), Koivu (2 points), and Pominville (1 point) who recently signed a new 5 year, $28M contract.
Dany Heatley hasn’t been up to NHL speed in some time, and his numbers continue to decline. He’s tied for a team-worst -2. Still, in set-zone play, his shot and nose for space are still a danger to a Jets team that is running around in its own zone.
Brodziak has developed into a very effective third line centre, but was -18 a year ago and Minnesota’s depth is limited with Coyle out of the lineup.
- Suter – Brodin
- Spurgeon – Scandella
- Stoner – Ballard
The Suter and Brodin pairing was shockingly good last season, with Suter falling one vote short of a Norris and Brodin having a Calder-worthy rookie year. They play major minutes, and you should enjoy the skating of Jonas Brodin. He’s like Brian Boitano with a hockey stick. Suter is a different kind of excellent, looking by eye to be a bit slow, under-physical, and really lacking the elite physical tools we’re used to seeing in our Norris candidates. But he thinks the game so well. He just never appears out of position somehow.
After that, things get a little weaker. The ‘Future’ pairing of Spurgeon and Scandella are a combined -4 against weaker competition and remain together for lack of other options. For those who didn’t hear, Clayton Stoner killed a grizzly bear named Cheeky this summer, after BC First Nations asked him not to. Stay classy, Clayton.
Backstrom is hurt, so Harding earns his first start of the year. Hard guy not to cheer for after his MS diagnosis and the charity work he’s started since.