JGD 74: “Watazombieataku!”


With Carolina and Dallas already in the “L” column, the Jets are on the left coast to play the league’s third place team and the current leaders of the vaunted Pacific Division. 

A cat in a shark costume riding a zoomba while hunting a duckling has nothing to do with that. I just thought we all needed a little cheering up.


Jets Forwards

  • Ladd – Little – Frolik
  • Byfuglien – Jokinen – Wheeler
  • Kane – O’Dell – Halischuk
  • Tangradi – Slater – Peluso
Devin Setoguchi has to face the shame of returning to his former home as a health scratch tonight. He’ll be shaking Big Joe’s hand for his 1,200th career game below the stands, no doubt, and maybe recalling his only 30 goal season with a tinge of wishful nostalgia to play with one of the league’s premier play makers again. Certainly it’s been a disappoint year for Setoguchi, and not the first of his relatively short career.

It’s always hard to know with this team – was it the coach? Was it the centreman? Perhaps it was the long stretch where he played with Chris Thorburn on the other wing, or the other long stretch where he had to play left wing for the first time in his career. He wasn’t given a lot of support on this club this season, but he’s not the first to be put in a tough position and expected to succeed where others hadn’t or even couldn’t.  

That’s was the way of things under Claude Noel, and the recent stretch of losing hockey has returned some focus to the awkward lineups put together by the new coach as well. The team is a winger short of a top-9 and has further constraints created by the poor chemistry between Kane and Jokinen. 

But hey – Ladd’s back!

Jets Defence

  • Stuart – Trouba
  • Enstrom – Ellerby
  • Pardy – Postma
  • Montoya
  • Hutchinson
DailyFaceoff.com has these pairings up in this order. It made me laugh and then feel sad inside. With Bogosian out and Byfuglien on wing, Stuart and Trouba are genuinely the team’s top pairing. A season ago, Stuart was a marginal third pairing player and PK specialist. It’s a credit to Trouba that he can drag Stuart this high in the depth chart, but it’s also an indictment of the quality of this blue line that Stuart’s become so important. 

Luckily for him, the team has some even more marginal options in Pardy, Ellerby, and Postma. 

Sharks Forwards

  • Sheppard – Thornton – Burns
  • Kennedy – Marleau – Nieto
  • Wingels – Pavelski – Havlat
  • Brown – Desjardins – Hamilton
These aren’t the lines from the Sharks’ recent game in Edmonton, but with Burish braking a finger in gruesome fashion that night, things are being shaken up a bit. This is a forward group that is also missing star Logan Couture and rookie sensation Tomas Hertl.

I’m sure we’ll hear a lot about Brent Burns  as the model for Dustin Byfuglien switching to forward and all the great success brought to the Sharks by this decision. So I feel it’s important to point out that he made the transition because he wasn’t at all the type of defender the team wanted, and his relative success includes moving from a low-scoring team to a high-scoring one and almost immediately entering the lineup next to a star centre on a club with excellent structure and discipline. 

For the Jets, the question isn’t whether Byfuglien is a better forward than defender, or even whether the team has fewer mistakes with him touching the puck less. The question is, would Byfuglien still struggle with turnovers with a new, more organized coach? Moreover, what is the best way to get the most out of this player? 

Sharks Defence

  • Vlasic – Demers
  • Irwin – Boyle
  • Stuart – Braun

  • Niemi
  • Stalock

Dan Boyle has had a very tough year for scoring, whether due to father time, unspoken injury, or just his role. Fortunately for the team, Marc-Edouard Vlasic continues to develop into a premier defender in this league. Brad Stuart was a top-pairing defender for the Red Wings a year ago and lets them spread out their young players to play with veteran partners. Not surprisingly, given their 103 accumulated team points, it’s a terrific defence group. They excel at possession play, both making quick transitions off their own end-boards and eating up space in the neutral zone. 

In comparison to the Jets, they don’t have a lot of big bodies. And yet, their success is undeniable. Even the Blues have a puck-moving and mobile back-end. Stick-optional types are going extinct in this league and will slowly collect on bad teams who refuse to adapt to a possession-focused league.

  • Kevin McCartney

    Welcome back, love that cat picture!

    “It’s always hard to know with this team – was it the coach? Was it the centreman? Perhaps it was the long stretch where he played with Chris Thorburn on the other wing, or the other long stretch where he had to play left wing for the first time in his career. He wasn’t given a lot of support on this club this season, but he’s not the first to be put in a tough position and expected to succeed where others hadn’t or even couldn’t.”

    It is not hard to know, the Jets saw a player being used wrongly with the Wild and brought him here and used him wrongly until he became the ultimate odd man out, his spot on the roster an afterthought. All of this having played out the team and most of the fans all wonder what happened, when it is entirely obvious what happened. Devin is a poor possession shooter that excels when he can be the late man in on the rush or benefit from zone pressure generated by possession line mates. Big Joe is not a magic-man, Setoguchi is still a good hockey player without him, it is just that he needs to play with the right players. It is frustrating because the spot that everyone expected him to take at the start of the season, with 9 and 55, would be perfect for him once Scheifele had found his game, but by then he had already been relegated to the doghouse for the season.

    Does it take a genius to see that him and Jokinen are never going to get through the neutral zone if they play together because they are *both* bad at it? I contend that it does not. Is it surprising that asking a shooter to switch wings is going to hurt his game? I mean, it only took Ovi 25 games so Devin should figure it out in one period, right?

    All the hate for Setoguchi (present company excluded, of course) really irritates me. It is like the generals in Vietnam asking soldiers to execute a WW2 strategy and then complaining that the failures must be a problem with the men on the ground.

    Man, I’ve got myself so worked up I can’t even stand to start in on the Buff situation, and why is Slater playing instead of Cormier? Slater is done here, right? The team understands that they need to let their 4th line players go so they can get new ones – ya know, to make the team better?

  • Kevin McCartney

    I totally and completely agree with you, X. I don’t have any hate in my heart for Seto. I think Chevy’s claim that he was brought in partly for his experience in the Western conference was a little misleading (precisely because he’s not a possession player), and you’re entirely right that he got buried and misused all year.

    But there is something about this player – he’s fallen down the depth chart on each of his three NHL teams and eventually flushed. I think that ‘something’ might be unrealistic expectations from the coaches and managers, but there is something.

    I feel your frustration too. I don’t understand how two coaches in a row can write lineup cards that don’t make sense. And I certainly will never understand why Mark Stuart got a 900K raise and Jim Slater is making $1.6M for another year after this one. They wasted 60 or so NHL games developing James Wright into an acceptable 4th liner, put Thorburn on the second line, and so on. The bottom of the lineup is just baffling.

    • Kevin McCartney

      Misleading where “misleading” is a synonym for moronic? It is silly, right, the idea that there is some sort of special quality he would have from playing in the west, that he will be giving his teammates some sort of pre-game briefing for every outing?

      The final irony in all this was the incredible game the Jets played last night, or perhaps the poor game the Sharks played. Swap Halischuk out of that lineup and Setoguchi in and that team plays worse last night? You’d have a hard time convincing me of that. But the Jets put on a hell of a show last night, confirming for everyone that Devin Setoguchi is exactly the vaudeville villain he has been made out to be. Bias-confirming variance is the plague of proper hockey analysis!!1! (NB: That digit in there is a stylistic choice made with tender care.)

      Please, I beg of you humble author, a post outlining the contract and cap situation of our dear Jets as we approach the off-season. There I can pour out more enraged, cathartic ramblings at my keyboard in the comments. I mean for God’s sake, Mark Stuart, four years of NMC Mark Stuart!

  • Kevin McCartney

    The ability to pass the puck is sorely lacking on the Jets. Watch a puck possession team like Detroit and the passing is pretty nice to watch. The difference between watching plumbers take up space on the ice and players who can pass the puck is skill.