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.
- Ladd – Little – Frolik
- Byfuglien – Jokinen – Wheeler
- Kane – O’Dell – Halischuk
- Tangradi – Slater – Peluso
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!
- Stuart – Trouba
- Enstrom – Ellerby
- Pardy – Postma
Luckily for him, the team has some even more marginal options in Pardy, Ellerby, and Postma.
- Sheppard – Thornton – Burns
- Kennedy – Marleau – Nieto
- Wingels – Pavelski – Havlat
- Brown – Desjardins – Hamilton
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?
- Vlasic – Demers
- Irwin – Boyle
- Stuart – Braun
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.