JGD 13: A Mile High

We heard during last night’s broadcast that the Jets are tired of hearing about what’s wrong with them. In honour of their win, and waking up on a Sunday in a good mood, this Game Day is only going to deal with the positives.

… how about that Tobias Enstrom character? 

I’m kidding – there are some positives in the Jets’ recent play. 

Starting with an exceptional performance against Washington, the Jets have taken points in each of their last three games and shown a new process to their game. We discussed their preference for skipping the neutral zone in early systems posts, but we’re starting to see more pressure at their own blue line thanks to holding F3 much higher on their forecheck and so getting some back pressure through the neutral zone. 

In some respect, these are the sorts of performances we can expect from a team busting out a slump. Blake Wheeler is scoring again. Ladd and Little are taking on tough competition, and Zach Bogosian is too. James Wright looks more comfortable at centre, and newcomer Devin Setoguchi looks more comfortable on the top line. 

Let’s enjoy the positives when we can.


All lines from DailyFaceoff.com 

Jets Forwards 

  • Ladd – Little – Setoguchi
  • Kane – Scheifele – Wheeler
  • Frolik – Jokinen – Peluso
  • Tangradi – Wright – Halischuk 

I’ve listed the lines as they were last night on paper. We saw Jokinen move up a line, and the coach mentioned him as a positive in his post-game presser. As well, Wright played twice as many minutes as Scheifele in Dallas, so we might see some shuffling. Today was an optional skate, however, so we won’t know the lines until very close to game time.

After his "who should be my top 12? I don’t know" comments this past week, he seems to be settling on some pairs that work. Little and Ladd have found the range and are playing power-vs-power again. Wheeler is finding his game with Kane in a speedy attack from both wings. Jokinen and Frolik… we’re staying positive, so all I can say is that they play together and have had great success with Tangradi on their line.

Even Halishcuk and Wright are much better together than apart

Jets Defense

  • Clitsome – Byfuglien
  • Enstrom – Bogosian
  • Stuart – Postma
  • Montoya
  • Pavelec 

Mark Stuart had his best game of the season last night. Maybe a sore hip made him a little less frenetic. The Penalty Kill was exceptional, with up-ice pressure and control of the neutral zone. Dallas struggled to even gain the zone.

And it seems like Claude Noel is going to play Montoya tonight. He was on ice for the optional, but nothing has been confirmed. Could Noel have learned the stats on Pav’s back-to-backs and be thinking long-term? I must be a mile high! On happiness, obviously.

Enstrom with Bogosian gives the team a legitimate tough-minutes pairing, and with Enstrom’s passing and Bogosian’s skating and slick puck move from last night, it’s possible the pair start chipping in offensively as well. 

Avalanche Forwards

  • O’Reilly – Duchene – Downie
  • Landeskog – Stastny – Tanguay
  • McGinn – MacKinnon – Parenteau
  • Cliche – Mitchell – Bordeleau

So there is some bad news today, and that’s that the Avalanche are very good at hockey. The are second in the league standings, second in goal differential, and Matt Duchene is coming into his own as a superstar with 12 points in 10 games and a highlight reel lengthening nightly.

The second line is the Avs’ tough minutes line, but they’re not shy about using O’Reilly/Duchene/Downie in that role either. In fact, that line is crushing tough competition. Meanwhile, the MacKinnon line gets the zone start push and is the only line struggling at possession. 

It’s a very fast group with a lot of skill through their top three lines. And Patrick Roy is using them with awareness for their strengths and limitations and with purpose. Dangerous.

Avalanche Defence

  • Hejda – Johnson
  • Benoit – Wilson
  • Sarich – Guerin
  • Varlamov
  • Giguere

This unit is a little lesser known. Still, the Avs took major steps toward a versatile defence group over the summer. Last year, this team iced Greg Zanon, Ryan O’Byrne, and Shane O’Brien. Sarich and Nate Guerin aren’t exactly Brian Campbell out there, but they have more mobility than that departed trio.

Andre Benoit toiled in Ottawa’s system for years, including putting up 73 points in 96 games during Binghamton’s Championship year in 2010/11. He’s arrived in the NHL in a big way, playing over 20 minutes in all three disciplines for the 9-1-0 Avalanche.

Hejda gets the top minutes, though, and remains under-rated. That poor man. I mean, not financially speaking, of course.

Varlie gets the start today with a 1.73 GAA and .948 sv % in 7 starts. If you can imagine, those are the worse numbers of the two netminders.

Erik Johnson was hurt last week in practice, and was questionable for the game againt Carolina on Friday. He did play, but some are speculating he won’t suit up today with a bruised foot. Tyson Barrie is the team’s 7th man. 

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