Monday Morning Musings: Wright Not Right Fit & Jets Halfway Home

Wright Not the Right Fit In Winnipeg

The biggest complaint I have had as a Jets fan over the two and a half seasons the team has been back hasn’t been the lack of Ron Hainsey’s defensive skills or even the lack of NIk Antropov’s speed – it is the fact the Jets regularly dress centre James Wright on a nightly basis on their fourth line.

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Wright, who has up to Monday played 127 career NHL games, has played the previous 78 with the Jets and I am still not sure what either Claude Noel or Kevin Cheveldayoff see in him and his on-ice performance.

He has only six points (two goals, four assists) in his 78 games with the team and is a combined -6, not to mention the amount of times Noel puts Wright on the penalty kill.

And I can count on more than two of my hands (if I had more) the number of times Wright doesn’t get the puck out of the Jets zone on the penalty kill.  More often than not it leads to an opposition’s power-play goal.

Three Jets are tied for first in power play goals against – Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Stuart (who I am not surprised two big bodies in front) and then James Wright with 13 against.

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For a player who is taking a role on the fourth line as Wright is, why aren’t we giving that opportunity to someone else in the organization that could be learning the game as a fourth liner?

Why is Wright the full-time player and Anthony Peluso not? (Mind you, Peluso is playing more with injuries to Jim Slater, Evander Kane, and others).

If Wright is just another patch up in the lineup to have another body on the ice, then I understand.  He is in no way a threat offensively or defensively but he does tend to be the hardest working player on the ice at any given time – it just doesn’t usually produce anything.

He may be young and an ex-teammate of Evander Kane, but the Jets could do better for a fourth liner than James Wright.

Jets Halfway Home; Halfway to Success?

It’s been 41 games in the books and now the Jets have the long arduous process of trying to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in Winnipeg.

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That’s tough and I think fans and media alike can sense that.  The Jets have inched closer in their two seasons in Manitoba – four points out in 2012-13 versus eight points out in 2011-12.

But with the conference switch and the Jets being six points behind Phoenix as of December 30th, things have to get better for anything to happen.

A big win over Colordao – third in the Central Division – on Sunday night brought the Jets nine games behind the Avalanche but the problem is they need to still leapfrog Minnesota (45 points) and Dallas (45 points) before they get a sniff of Phoenix (47 points) or Vancouver (52 points) who hold down the two wild card positions.

As of now, the Central division is the weaker of the two divisions when it comes to getting into the final of the top three positions (Anaheim 61, San Jose 56, Los Angeles 54 versus Chicago 61, St. Louis 57, Colorado 50).  And going forward, no one will expect LA to slow down while Colorado has been cooling off throughout the midway point of the season.

Colorado is 3-3-4 in the last ten, Dallas is 5-3-2, Minnesota is struggling 3-7-0 in last ten, while the Jets are trying to get ahold of the sesaon being 4-5-1 in their last ten.  

With the likes of Nashville, Calgary, and Edmonton not being big factors going forward, the Jets need to start capitalizing on divisional matchups (including clean wins no more ROWs) and beating teams behind them – something the team struggles with since their return.

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The Jets play the Oilers once more and Calgary and Nashville twice more – those ten points could help the Jets tremendously in the long run.  

There are ten more divisional matchups altogether – those games will decide the Jets playoff fate.

Klingberg Just Not Working Out

Carl Klingberg, the former second round pick of Atlanta in 2009, isn’t seeming to pan out to much of even an AHL players.

In 27 games in St. John’s this season, Klingberg has a positive +6 plus/minus but has only eight goals and six assists (14 points).

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Last season – Klingberg’s first full season in the AHL – the 22-year old Swede had 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 66 games and a -6 plus/minus.

This coming from a player the Jets thought may be on the right side with Mark Scheifele coming out of the Jets first rookie tourney and camp in 2011-12.

His best year in St. John’s was that 2011-12 year where he scored decent numbers for a rookie – 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 66 games while only contributing two points (one goal, one assist) in 12 playoff games.

With the emergence of Eric O’Dell and the arrival of free agents Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson, Klingberg hasn’t been looked upon to lead the offense as much.

The Ice Caps haven’t had troubles scoring this season as they sit in eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with 35 points – three better than Adirondack with 31 games played.  The scoring by committee approach has been beneficial for the Ice Caps, but Klingberg is seeming to get lost in the mix.

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With this being his final year of his entry level deal, Klingberg may be opting to go back to Sweden or try again in Winnipeg or even somewhere else in the NHL, but with his work so far, I can’t see anything positive as of now.

  • Kevin McCartney

    Re: Wright and the PK

    You get to pick the stat to make your point, I suppose that is your prerogative as an author but total goals against seems like a pretty weak selection. Jame Wright can hardly be blamed for the Jets *taking* so many penalties (he has a staggering 6 PIMs) any more than he can be blamed for their poor power play rating. 4v5 the Jets are 8th in CA/60 and suffer from an atrocious .859 save % (21st in GA/60). The Jets worst penalty killer is – surprise, surprise – Mr. Pavelec.

    Given the choice I’ll take Wright on the ice (playing centre) vs. Peluso this season, Peluso has not been good with the puck or without it except perhaps this last game v. Colorado. Of course given my real choice neither should dress for this hockey team.

    I am a bit of a Jim Slater fan if only because I do have a particular irrational affection for the face-off specialist but I can’t say that there is much difference between Wright and Slater. I fear that a healthy Slater means he is iced as a 4C and Wright is back on the wing. Noel would effectively be double-Wrighting – insert predictable joke here! I think I would rather have no Slater.

    • Oh yeah Pavelec has been a penalty killer killer (brutal play on words) but it just seems that Wright makes the small mistakes like not getting pucks out of the zone or being positionally wrong at the wrong times. I’m taking it from watching not from the statistical analysis. Stats can say a lot, but there is still much to be said for watching and seeing from a pure hockey standpoint if he got his job assignment done efficiently.

      Interesting that you’d rather have no Slater and have Wright. I would argue the opposite based on not only experience in the NHL – 483 games to Wright’s 127 games.

      Slater does have more skill than Wright and I feel more confident having Slater on the PK with Frolik or Ladd than Wright.

  • The Wright over Slater thing is more of a Noel counter-measure than anything else, whatever it is I don’t want *both* of them on the ice, with the 3rd man being Peluso or Thorburn – that would be a train wreck. I don’t see a huge difference between the two.