JN AirMail: Brandon Tanev Superstar

Ask any Winnipeg Jets fan and they likely have an opinion on Brandon Tanev. He certainly has become an early season focal point for the club and it’s fans. Today in AirMail I talk a little bit about him as well as what Maurice will do with Perreault out, as well as hashtags.

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As of this morning, we got our answer.. Perreault to the IR, Kyle Connor called up.

Here is hoping that Connor sees most of the 2nd line minutes that Perreault is leaving behind, but knowing Paul Maurice, it may be more of a second line wing by committee type deal, and yes that means we may see a little more of Brandon Tanev on the 2nd line. I wouldn’t rule out that possibility especially if Adam Lowry is still hurt and going to miss Tuesday’s game against Columbus. If Lowry was healthy, then it probably would have been a safe bet that Maurice bumped him up to 2nd line duty.

As for Tanev, I’ll have more on that in a moment…

I think NY Jets fans are more upset over a blown fumble call in Sunday’s game against the Pats than they are over any sort of hashtag, but if I can I’d like to bring everyone’s attention to one small issue that’s a pet peeve of mine.

To me the Winnipeg Jets have two “official” hashtags. #GoJetsGo is of course the team endorsed, logo stamped one. The other is #NHLJets. I point this out because as someone who considers himself a twitter power-user, I see too many times media and fans alike using just the regular #Jets hashtag which, funny enough as a NY Jets logo tacked on to it which is even more amusing when you see the word #Jets “trending” in Winnipeg in the middle of the week.

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It’s also funny to me as someone who follows a bunch of football accounts to see people tweet about the Jets which usually takes me a moment to figure out if they mean Jets of the hockey or football variety.

Maybe we should be thankful the team didn’t go with the rumored name of “Polar Bears” because we know that would have just been shortened to “Bears” and we still would have had this issue with an NFL team conflict.

Such a deep sounding question and so open ended. For our main story tonight, let’s talk about Brandon Tanev for a moment. There are two things about Brandon Tanev’s game that I don’t think anyone can question.

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One is that he plays all out, is one of the hardest workers on the ice and hustles for everything. I believe some people refer to that as “having a high motor” or what have you.

The second is – and I am trying to be polite about this as possible – that his decision making on the ice isn’t the best. Call it “lack of hockey IQ,” call it “playing out of control,” call it whatever you want. I simply don’t believe Tanev thinks or sees the game on the ice as well as players who are regulars on top six groups.

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But it’s that first part – the non-stop hustle – that catches the eyes of coaches and it’s why Paul Maurice didn’t hesitate to put him on the ice with less than a minute to go against Carolina while clinging to a one goal lead. In that instant, Tanev’s hustle but also lack of ability to recognize the situation and how to play it was put on full display…

Fine save by Hellebuyck, but if you notice, it’s Tanev that races out to the point and ends up getting side-stepped and allowing the Carolina player an open lane to take a shot.

Now we can file this under “no harm, no foul” and as it was pointed out to myself by a few fans, if Tanev does manage to get a blade on the puck, this play possibly turns into a brilliant steal and maybe even a breakaway the other way. Hockey is a “game of inches” and a couple more inches of reach and suddenly Tanev becomes a possible hero and not guy who was skated around.

But there lies the problem; was this really the right time to attempt that play? Up by one, with seconds left and the Canes goalie pulled? Would Tanev have been better served just staying in front of his man and trying to block? That’s really an issue for Tanev and the coaches to figure out. Perhaps this is exactly what Paul Maurice wants (which would be weird considering the passive box he has his penalty kill using right now) or maybe this was a case of Tanev making a mistake.

My personal hope is that this being just his second full season of pro hockey that Tanev starts figuring this stuff out. He’s 25 and was a late bloomer in college, so maybe the same thing happens at the pro level.

In the meantime though that hustle of his is what will keep him in the lineup and as we saw on Saturday night, grant him chances to play with the Jets top-six. That’s not to say that this is the right way of going about things for Paul Maurice, but it’s likely that’s what his thought process is at the moment.

That’s why Tanev.

  • FishWhiskey

    I have always found Paul Maurice to be a frustrating enigma when it has come to his choices of which players he favours. However, I think I may have had a eureka moment. I suspect that when Maurice was young he was told that “its not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that counts” and really took that to heart. I think he believes that giving 110% at all times is the most important thing and stubbornly clings to the article of faith that if the whole team just played furious and fearless hockey for 60 minutes every night that a Stanley Cup would be a lock…….Its a nice fantasy but it ignores the reality that speed, talent, fineness and strategy rule today’s game. It ignores that playing at a frantic pace will result in massive blunders and give aways. It assumes that players “taking one for the team” by heroically blocking shots that only goalie equipment can protect you from will not have the whole team on the IR by half the way through the season. I can see Maurice being at the top of some casting agents list to coach a team in a Hollywood movie but being a successful coach in the modern NHL requires nimble tactics, strategy, adaptive player management and the ability to evolve with the game. Maurice, on the other hand, seems to believe that if his team would just buy into his outdated fantasy that everything else would just take care of itself. But hey, in “PoMo Land” winning is not important so long as you are willing to block a shot with your face like Hendricks or skate furiously and unproductively around the ice like Tanev or smash into everything in sight like Stu. Cause those guys are playin the game right!

    • John K C

      I always find it amusing to read some Jet fans take on what Paul should do, it’s kind of like ‘I shoulda been an NHL coach but I had to take this job minding my dad’s store instead’. Here’s the heart breaker, not everyone is going to be the second coming of Mario Lemieux or Ray Borque. Both those guys were very poised, never rushed anything and were beautiful playmakers, to say the least. In the jungle that is hockey you will need guys like Tanev pinballing around the ice too motivating opponents to throw away the puck. Should Tanev have stayed and tried to block that shot instead of trying to steal it from the Carolina defender? Of course he should have. Hey, if were going to visit pure speculation country who’s to say the Carolina player wouldn’t have made a beauty pass and set up the tying goal but he was pressured so he felt he needed to take a high risk shot? Speculation is the key word here and until we win that Cup there will be no end of it, I get that. I just find that a lot of Jet fans right now are speculating every move made as a disaster and it gets more than a little tiring.

  • Petan and Connor have not been given much chance to succeed while Tanev, Matthias, last year Thorburn and soon to be Hendricks get too much ice time and undeserved praise. In the preseason Petan blocks a shot races down the ice to set up Dano with a beautiful pass that turned out to be the game winner. After the game Maurice praised Hendricks for blocking a shot but never mentioned Petan’s play. Whenever they are in the lineup Maurice saddles them with slow, skill challenged slugs and 6 min of ice time. They deserve better or the Jets philosophy of draft and develop is a joke, as long as the use Tanev, Matthias and soon Hendricks instead of much better players that only fault is wthat they are young. Maybe Maurice either doesn’t know how to coach young players or just plain doesn’t want them around. This is evident in how poor the Jets bottom 2 line have been, not only this season but since Maurice became the Jets head coach.

    • John K C

      Reality is Petan and Connor have been giving lots of opportunity in their short time in Winnipeg. I realize that both Ehlers and Laine may have been giving more ample opportunity but then they showed the kind of superstar talent required right out of the starting blocks. Looking at this preseason Connor had plenty of time again with the big boys but, honestly, he didn’t light it up. Petan, he’s had second unit pp time last season but he tended to bobble the puck or get it stripped off of him, that’s frustrating to a coach. When you talk about giving guys opportunity like your suggesting that means top 6 time which means 15-20 minutes per game. How do you hand that out when that’s nearly one third of the game and some of that will be played in your own end? Very risky for a team that swears they’re trying to make the playoffs. Connor is now being handed his shot, I hope he takes this opportunity and I think he will. As far as Petan goes, you can’t possibly convince me that guys like Armia and Lowry aren’t capable to play with him and beyond that he does have a pretty good back end to work with as well. He hasn’t done that so far.

    • Mr. X

      Maurice DID specifically mention Petan after that preseason game. In his interview with the broadcast crew, he complained that Petan was a minus-3. Which he wasn’t, but whatever. At that instant, I knew that we were going to get a steady diet of Tanev and Hendricks all season long.