You might not believe this, but I found this image on someone’s Pinterest.
The Jets have left Winnipeg and gone East to find themselves. We’ve all done it, and I think we all wished we had a plane full of hockey gear when we did. They’re in a better place now, fans, away from the grind and the painful reminders of their degraded self-worth.
In the next six games, we can hope the Jets find what they’re looking for – a functional powerplay, a game plan they can execute for three periods, and the rut in Mark Scheifele’s skate that keeps making him fall.
Today is the second time the Jets have faced the Devils this season. At the time of their first meeting, the Devils were winless, and their team of UFA hires seemed to be a slow, plodding disaster on the ice. The Jets weren’t much better off at the time, having lost three straight in a tough October. The Jets’ 3-0 shutout over the Devils was an early bright spot for the team and ignited hope that Monty might steal some games.
Since that game, however, the Devils have gone 9-6-2, while the Jets continued their Merry-Go-Round (that’s for you, Scott!) at 8-8-4.
Jaromir Jagr is clearly enjoying the slower pace, and leads the team with 18 points and a +10 rating. On a team with just 49 goals and a -2 goal differential, that’s a remarkable start to the season.
Scoring remains a problem for the Devils, but they have shown success in returning to the old ways. Ranked 7th in goals against per game at just 2.2, the Devils are rising up the standings on the back of puck possession. The team allows just 25 shots against per game, and now rank 9th in team corsi % after a rough start.
In contrast to the Devils’ patient, old-man game, the Jets play like a growing puppy. They ranky 21st with 2.9 goals against, and 18th in corsi %. But from one game to the next, it’s a new team. Bad a defence one game, poor goaltending another, domination followed by a short handed goal against follows that. Did I hit a nerve? It felt like a root canal to write.
- Ladd – Little – Wheeler
- Kane – Jokinen – Setoguchi
- Frolik – Scheifele – Halischuk
- Tangradi – Wright – Thorburn
Claude Noel thought it was a strong effort against Minnesota, so the same forward lines return. The goal scoring came from the drowning third line, and the second line remains snake-bitten. Mark Scheifele’s minutes are being controlled carefully at this stage, but his line needed Minnesota to meet them in the gutter to have any hope of two strikes on the evening.
The LLW line is still terrific, but Little wasn’t his usual self against the Wild. We can expect a return to form, while hoping that the bottom-six doesn’t do the same.
- Enstrom – Byfuglien
- Stuart – Ellerby
- Clitsome – Trouba
Yep, JACOB TROUBA’S BACK! And somehow the guy who is allergic to vulcanized rubber like Superman is to kryptonite stays in the line-up. That’s Mark Stuart, in case I was too subtle.
"What do you mean, allergic?! He blocks it all the time!" You yell. Ah, but it’s the proximity that he fears, as he mostly gives anyone who has some a lot of space, then swats it away from himself whenever it’s near.
Adam Pardy draws out instead after stabilizing Grant Clitsome’s game and helping acclimatize Ellerby. Despite being the same defenceman style, Pardy is kind of the anti-Stuart. Stable, controlled, and dependable, he manages the puck and plays within his limitations. But tonight he’ll be playing table hockey within the confines of the pressbox.
With all due respect to Trouba, this might be the worst defensive group the Jets have iced this season. Trouba is a rookie in his first game back from injury and was not any more the solution than he was the problem when he was healthy. The team was 3-4-0 with him in the lineup. No one blames him for not moving a mountain, but I’m not sure why the team keeps putting mountains on the ice in the first place.
Ondrej Pavelec could use another day of rest according to his career splits. He has a career .930 with two days rest. Postponement? Postponement anyone? Ah well, he’s at .919 this season with just one day off between games. Good enough, ‘Drej. (AKA so much better than expected it boggles the mind).
- Zubrus – Zajac – Jagr
- Brunner – Elias – Bernier
- Henrique – Loktionov – Ryder
- Carter – Josefson – Janssen
It’s a, uh, beatable group. Adam Henrique was given that big contract a while back on the results of a very small sample of games. He was a medium to good AHL player, and is currently one of the players who is underperforming for the Devils. He has just 8 points in 23 games and is among their lesser possession players. Not, you know, Ryane Clowe bad, mind you.
Thankfully for the Devils, Clowe is not playing. In fact, his last game was against the Jets and he’s mysteriously missed the team’s turn-around. (I lied. Hint: It’s not a mystery.) Thankfully for Clowe himself, he’s back skating from a concussion.
That said, the team could use what Clowe represents. Steve Bernier is in that power forward role currently, and is also currently a team worst -10. Please remember that he was their 13th forward the year they went to the Cup finals. How long ago that must feel…
The biggest threat to the Jets in this group is the top line. It’s slow, but it’s very big and very smart. They don’t give up the puck much. As well, all of Brunner, Elias, and Ryder are dynamic scorers in the right circumstance. The Devils’ limited offence to date isn’t for a total lack of talent.
- Greene – Zidlicky
- Gelinas – Fayne
- Merrill – Harrold
Marty starts against the Jets tonight. It’s a team with three players old enough to remember Jets 1.0, and I (for one) am happy all three get to play tonight.
With former 4th overall pick Adam Larsson out with injury, and Volchenkov on IR, this blue line is razor thin. Jon Merrill suffered a concussion in his last NHL game earlier in November, and this will be his first game back in the majors.
Eric Gelinas has been much better than I expected by the numbers, and I look forward to getting some eyes on him.
Sorry for the late post, Jets fans. It was get this done on time, or play hockey myself. I scored a Datsyukian toe-drag-and-pop across the front of the net today, so I think we can all agree I made the right choice. The world deserved that goal.
Worth Reading Today
There’s so much good stuff up right now!
- The 25-game recap on Pavelec is a must-read. Seriously, the work Travis is putting in really pays dividends for all fans in that recap.
- I looked at the Jets propensity to have shorthanded goals against in a primer for some powerplay work this week.
- Ross delivered the transcript from Dr. Gary’s latest session with the team. If you like Down Goes Brown or just need to laugh at the team, or if you just enjoy great writing, Ross is killing it.
- I wrote a new piece over at Bleacher Report on PK Subban as a cerebral defender. It has pictures!
- Did you read your Arctic Ice Game Day?!