JN Roundtable: Pondering Forward Useage

[Ed Note: The JetsNation Slack channel – think of it as our backstage area where all the JN staff talk and share ideas – sometimes has the most interesting conversations and every so often I’ll try to copy and paste some of those discussions as I feel many Jets fans would not only enjoy, but like to chime in with their thoughts as well. One such discussion happened a little while ago between Tony D (@Tony_MBHKY on the Twitter) and WPG Chief (No Twitter, but be sure to check out his other work here) and was a great thought process into what Paul Maurice should do with the forward lines this coming season..  -Art]

Tony D: Also I’m concerned about the Jets goal scoring next season. If (Blake) Wheeler, (Brian) Little and (Matthieu) Perreault regress offensively, and (Kyle) Connor isn’t ready, the Jets will be really really top heavy in scoring.

All the Jets bottom six guys’ 5v5 impact is on the defensive side.

WPG Chief: All the Jets bottom six guys 5v5 in how Maurice plays them is defensive. Throw Connor on the second or third line, play (Nik) Petan with them and shift (Adam) Lowry to the 4th – three scoring lines, hopefully, maybe? Obviously not set in stone in that it would happen that way (nor is it likely) but it sounds nice.

Slight reference to DTM’s work about spreading out talent among lines instead of trying to stack on the first two.

[Ed Note: @DTMAboutHeart is a ‘must follow’ on Twitter, go follow now if you want to get smarter about the game!]

Tony D: Maurice will have to spread out his top six guys if he wants to see a three line attack, but those guys and Connor are the players I think plays for the Jets this year. If he loads up the top six, they will get no scoring from the bottom six. If the D-core stays healthy they will likely be top ten in the NHL at even strength defense.

WPG Chief: Would be a nice change of pace to have a healthy defense throughout the season

Tony D:Hear me out for a minute. What if you played Lowry with little and Connor as your 3rd line? Let Petan / (Jack) Roslovic play with Wheeler and (Nik) Ehlers? Let’s you play (Andrew) Copp, (Joel) Armia and (Marko) Dano as a 4th line.

WPG Chief: Like so?

Tony D:Except if Maurice is keeping his shitty d-zone system have Lowry play center.

WPG Chief: Could be interchangeable. Little on o-zone draws, Lowry on d-zone. Or switch.

Tony D:Agree

WPG Chief: Methinks Little would drive possession and Lowry would keep it in the offensive zone. Tell Connor to get open and always shoot would be a great third line

Lowry and Little certainly like to pass, both are pretty good at ‘dangerous shot contributions’. It’s the shot volume that is low, and I think Connor could do reasonably well in that manner.

I know you’re pretty strong on Roslovic making the jump next season, which probably means Petan has a comfortable seat in the press box – would you be as confident rolling with Connor/Roslo/Lowry, keeping Little on the 2nd and ‘sheltering’ Roslo by having him take ozone draws and Lowry take dzone? Would keep Connor + Roslo chemistry from Moose too, maybe?

Tony D:I’m ok having Lowry centering the young guys. I think if Lowry is going to play in the top nine, you have to use him like this. To shelter offensive guys on the defensive end so Maurice is comfortable playing them. You could also do what Calgary did with the “3M line” and play Lowry-Pereault-Dano to take some of the hard match ups leaving Scheifele-Ehlers-Laine or Little-Wheeler-Connor with an easy matchup. Means Petan-Copp-Armia is your 4th line.

WPG Chief: Depends if Maurice sees Dano as a defensive stalwart like he sees Matthias (not really) / Lowry / Armia as his top defensive/matchup forwards. Maybe (Tyler) Myers comes back in form and plays as he’s regarded – a shutdown defender (for example his Ovi match ups) – giving Maurice more freedom to play with his forward lines, but I see Maurice being cautious until then

Tony D: I do wonder if a healthy blue-line allows Maurice to be more free in rolling out his forward lines knowing he doesn’t have dead weight back there. Sheltering a defensive pair is so much harder than sheltering forward lines. Just ask the Preds about it in the cup final.

WPG Chief: Well, we do know Maurice loves line tinkering, but never with Matthias/Lowry/Armia when they were healthy, and I do think that’s in part because of the defencemen being injured nearly all the time. But then the Jets got scored on early anyway so better roll out your top two lines and pairs for the rest of the game.

If you want to make a faster roster/line-up, then you definitely have to split Matthias/Lowry/Armia, which will probably happen if the defense rebounds and remains healthy. Then you simply have to spread things around and realize that fast doesn’t always mean being a quick skater, but finding open spaces and making tape-to-tape passes more frequently. If Roslovic makes the jump, I’d like to see him stay with Connor as they were definitely a good tandem with the Moose – that means either Lowry centres both of them on the third line or gets bumped to the fourth line with Matthias and Armia. Petan is still waiver-exempt, so he might go down to the Moose in that scenario, and I am comfortable betting on Lemieux vs Tanev for a press box seat.

So basically, if Roslovic can come up and prove his worth and stay up, that Jets forward roster is pretty deep with a ton of talent. Maybe the 4th line will finally see more than 7 minutes a game.