Jets Post-Game 37: No Big Deal

The very first shift ended fears that the Jets were going to roll over in this game. Evander Kane threw a punishing hit, and the Jets new look second line picked up where they left off – with offensive pressure and slick scoring chances. Kane aggrivated the Panthers, the powerplay scored two, and the Jets never backed down in a high-emotion affair. Somehow confidence abounded on the struggling club as 10 different Jets recorded points in team’s first home win in regulation since November 8th. 

It was shift three, however, when the reality of this team hit home. After two dazzling shifts of forceful offence, Jokinen/Setoguchi/Thorburn came on with Trouba/Stuart and the Panthers were able to break containment and begin to participate in the game. Thorburn’s fight with Krys Barch and the line’s broad ineffectiveness saw Wright promoted to Jokinen’s left side intermittently, but the pattern continued throughout. In a game where the Jets outshot the Panthers 25-18 at even strength, the Jokinen line managed 3 shots for and 10 against. That’s 12% of the Jets shots created by that line, and 55% of the team’s shots against with 27% of the even strength ice time. 

Yet, the Panthers goals came off giveaways by Byfuglien (assist to Frolik) and Kane. Pavelec turned aside a few other five alarm chances, including a double tap by Huberdeau from the top of the crease, but it will be interesting to see Travis’s scoring chance numbers on this night. 

By eye, much of the game turned on the Panthers’ penalty trouble, the Kane line’s forecheck, and how awful Jacob Markstrom is at the NHL level. The first Jets’ goal started with a slick move from Trouba stepping down the middle shooting lane from the point, and as he tripped he flung the puck toward the Kane at the far post and it went off Gilbert’s skate and in. A 5-on-3 later in the period created two powerplay goals in 33 seconds for the Jets – Enstrom slapped a bouncing puck from the point, and then Wheeler tipped home a Bogosian clapper. The first period ended 3-1 on the score board, and the teams had combined for 28 penalty minutes.

The second period opened with a nifty Frolik saucer pass on a 2-on-1 into Kane’s skate, which he quickly managed up to this stick and then into the top half of the yawning cage. And the period closed with Frolik burying a pass off Markstrom’s pad by Ladd. 

The Jets didn’t score in the third, but Kane’s game-long battle with Scottie Upshall bubbled over with Kane attacking him with two quick fists to the face before being pulled back and sent down the tunnel.

The Good

Kane was an absolute beast. If you had to list the positive qualities of Kane – fast, mean, physical, hard wrister with a disguised release point, and a scoring chance machine – you could show this game for examples of all of it. He got under the skin of ever Panther he came across. Barch was yelling at him in the first from the bench, Gudbranson in the second, and it was Upshall in the third. His range was exceptional, and his size and physicality created space for his linemates. Just a terrific game.

Mark Scheifele is finding his range. He has points in 5 straight, and 12 of his 17 points have come in his last 13 games (starting with the Minnesota loss before the Eastern road trip). Most of his points have come against lesser teams, sure, but he’s shaken off the idea that he doesn’t belong, despite continued (and understandable) defensive problems. His two assists on this night came from his change-up pacing. He generates so much more when he’s able to slow down, and Evander Kane allows him to do that by collapsing defenders with his speed ahead of the puck. 

Frolik should be mentioned a well. The whole line made some mistakes in breakout, and a better team might have made them pay more heavily. As it was, the Panthers put in two goals against this line on turnovers during offensive transition. Still, Frolik had a goal and an assist and is showing the whole league that his offence is far above that of a defensive specialist. While playing from the third line without much help, Frolik has quietly managed 21 points – more than any Florida Panther. He and Kane led the way in terms of shot attempt differential – 14 for, 8 against. 

Bogosian played fewer than 18 minutes and had a few turnovers trying to carry out of the zone. But overall, it as a positive return. He showed off his skating, his calm puck movement, and even his outrageous strength. He slammed Huberdeau into the boards in the second and even he looked a little shocked at just how heavy the hit had been. He’s a critical part of the team’s defence.

Trouba’s goal started with a very confident slice into the defensive box, but was honestly pretty flukey. He crossed his hands over his body as he fell away from the play to put the puck in front, and a skate got in the way. Still, he played over 22 minutes in a convincing win. That’s a lot for a young man. He was the team’s worst defender by corsi numbers (just 44%), but we can see the Stuart effect in the numbers as things start to even out when you take out the blocked shots. As well, Trouba’s most common forward linemates were the Jokinen line, and as we saw in yesterday’s Forward Usage piece, the defenders get dragged down playing with Thorburn or Wright. In other words, I think there’s a fair argument he carried a line tonight.

The Bad

We’ve talked about the Jets third line already. I think the worst that can be said about this game actually came from the mouth of play by play man Dennis Beyak, who revealed that the team refers to a .500 record as ‘the line.’ Perhaps I’m over-analyzing the words of a man who has to fill over 2 hours of dead air, but he seemed to mean the line between acceptable and unacceptable. Of course, as a .500 team, the Jets are now 11th in the West. 

The loss to Florida two weeks ago was so awful to watch in part because the Jets should be able to beat the Panthers each and every contest. Too often this team pats itself on the back for the most basic of accomplishments, and I’d like to see them aim higher. Higher expectations may even make obvious who is able to acheive those and who is simply not capable of being a productive part of a good hockey club.

That’s not to take away from their success on this evening, which is far from automatic. No doubt that room was filled with ice bags tonight, and the Jets won the game in part through their intensity and determination at winning it. But their depth was still exposed in this game, with Stuart being a below-50% corsi player in a dominating game, and their third and fourth lines playing exclusively in their own end. As I referenced, some casual mistakes made would have been more noteworthy against an opponent that could take advantage. 

The Jets earned a win to salvage their pride in a frustrating month. But they still need to set their sights higher, and .500 can’t be the line. 

  • belzebob

    while I may agree on some of the ripping on the current edition of the jets.

    I think that the bloggers here spend far too much time pointing out our teams deficits.

    there is much to be happy about. we have some very good young talent and I am more than happy with managements decisions to build through the draft and not try for a quick fix.

    this team is not as bad as some of you would like to project.

    I can agree that noel’s coaching may not what is needed, but I refuse to slam almost all the players in the fashion that seems to be very common here.

    we are not the Chicago Blackhawks, but with a steady hand from management, and a least a small dose of appreciation for what we have….sometime this franchise could be.

    we have some very talented players here. sometimes it is better to sit back and watch the progression

    • Jets are what they are and it shows in the results.

      If the Jets get better results more often than negative, I’m sure the comments will transition as well.

      Also, you learn more from the errors than the good.

      Also also, there are 5 points in the good and 4 in the bad… soo….

    • Kevin McCartney

      Yes, there are on occasion, OK on frequent occasion, comments on this site, on other social media networks and on the call in shows,those haters that will slam anybody and everything that gets within their field of vision. Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re bitching.But we have to delineate those types to others who go to great lengths by offering up some objective criticism. I’d rather hear that than the deafening sound of silence, because that’s the sound we heard just before the Jet’s left the first time.

      However, your point is well taken. So much so that as we approach this season of good will to all, I will begin by performing my first act of random kindness by not saying anything negative about our hockey team until after the New Year. But after that …it’s on.

    • Kevin McCartney

      Point well taken, belzebob. The Jets have more talent to cheer than the Flames, and are closer to the prize than the Oilers or Panthers etc.

      To be honest, my negativity relates to just how easy the problem is to solve. If we were waiting on Scheifele to become a scorer to be a playoff team, I’d be patient (I am, after all, originally an Oilers fan).

      The trouble is, this team could be in the playoffs each of the three years without major changes. The GM doesn’t need to knock it out of the park on a trade, he doesn’t need to hire 8 free agents or convince Toews to sign here. He only needs to change a poor coach (who we knew wasn’t ideal when he took the job) and change 4 or 5 players at the end of the roster. A change in Pavelec would be nice, but I think his numbers would improve enough by virtue of the other changes.

      I honestly find it difficult to talk about the positive sometimes, belzebob, because I feel like we’re getting a really gourmet hamburger with a day old bun. The least expensive, most obvious part is poorly executed and the whole experience suffers.

      But I recognize that this is another wasted season, and it will be a long slog if we only talk about James Wright and Mark Stuart.

      • FlamesRule

        Easy now…Flames fans cheer heart and effort (these days referred to as GRIT) and we’ve definitely got that to cheer for this season. The talent will come but not at the expense of GRIT (a la the Oilers).

  • belzebob

    “Perhaps I’m over-analyzing the words of a man who has to fill over 2 hours of dead air..”

    Not perhaps, certainly.

    “I am, after all, originally an Oilers fan”

    Well, I am done feeling pity for you in that case. Being frustrated with Jets management must be a positively euphoric state when compared to the continuous agony applied to the very fibre of your consciousness by being forced to watch the Oilers undermine their own potential.

  • Kevin McCartney

    The actual quote is:

    “You hear Claude Noel talk about it, you hear the players talk about it – ‘the line.’ The Jets are back to even .500 on the season at 16-16-5. Now the task at hand is to get above that line.”

    I was being generous with the idea that I misunderstood. To be honest, I think the positivity surrounding a win against Florida (sans their starting goalie, no less) is an example of that line existing around this team.

    I’m not trying to be a jerk about it – the Jets won convincingly – but it was the same game they’ve played 25 times this year, complete with a messy breakout and mistakes in key areas and their depth players being beaten badly. The Jets need to be able to beat St Louis, not Florida.

    Edmonton beat Florida, too. Mark Acrobello scored his first two NHL goals against Markstrom in highlight fashion thanks to Markstrom being a medium quality AHL goalie.

    I just don’t think it’s worth getting excited about. I still love Kane, the LLW line is a power-vs-power line that can handle the Western conference, and I raved about Scheifele’s shot in early September and haven’t stopped. Byfuglien is a unique talent, Enstrom’s a genius and I tweet my love of him frequently. Bogo and Trouba *look* good, even if their results are very ‘young defenceman’-esque. Frolik and Setoguchi have each been different than I expected, but positive contributors.

    But that’s why the team SHOULD beat Florida.

    • belzebob

      Talk about reading too much into something!

      I have no argument with anything you have to say about the team or the results but I find it pretty hard to believe that anyone involved in the Jets team, management, coach, or players feels any satisfaction at being .500 (which of course is not really .500).

      I’ve heard some quotes about being at .500 from Jets players and I can say that exactly zero of them had a positive tone, an obligatory “well, yes that is an important step” and always followed by a “but” and sequence of sighs and then the obligatory ponderous cliche-ing. (The players I suspect of being more articulate, like Wheeler, spend more time sighing – I presume because they have more actual opinions they need to keep hidden.)

      I dislike arm-chair psychoanalyzing but I think it is a stretch to imply that there is any element of satisfaction with respect to being the proud owners of a .500 record. To confuse the excitement of a particular win, a Friday night win, a blowout win, with enthusiasm for what is, but for a technicality, a losing record is doing your yourself a disservice.

      That being said, “Chin up, old boy!”