0

JN AirMail: Rolling Along With Four Lines

JetsNation AirMail is our weekly Q and A feature where we take your most pressing questions from Twitter, Facebook and good ol’ regular e-mail about the Winnipeg Jets, the sport of hockey and sometimes about favorite foods, and our group of writers answer them.

This week, we ponder if trade (or trades) should be made, ponder if Steve Mason should ever get another start ever again and ponder a couple of other topics… Today it’s myself and JetsNation Podcaster Kyle B with the honors of answering your questions.

Art – I can’t speak to how the coaches feel exactly, but I am sure being able to roll all four lines now will benefit the team come time for the final stretch of games to the playoffs and the playoffs themselves. The biggest benefit though to me of a team that can balance ice time between four lines is that opposing teams can’t focus on just the top line. All four lines present their own threat and challenges and you can’t just game plan around taking care of one or two lines. That will be a bigger benefit to the Jets rather than the less wear and tear being put on them now.

Kyle – It certainly helps to keep guys fresher throughout the year. It seems as though the team has better jump overall on the forecheck and in their own zone and that probably has to do with the amount of distributed ice time. Definitely an asset come playoff time to have a lot of fresh legs from saving some minutes here and there.

Art – Early in the season (in the first few weeks) the Jets seemed to have their success despite the numbers / advanced stats suggesting that they shouldn’t have been winning those games. They were getting by with an overly high shooting percentage that didn’t seem like it was sustainable and with high quality goaltending. Now as the season has gone on, the shooting percentage has leveled off to a more reasonable rate, but the shot metrics – shots for and shots against – have risen and the goaltending has stayed relatively high.

But you probably know all this, to answer your question though, – and Tony touched on this a while ago when he first looked at the early season numbers – the advance stats weren’t good, but there was reason to believe they’d get better, so there was a turn around for sure but there was also some early indications that things could be alright even when the numbers didn’t look the greatest.

Kyle – The advanced stats have improved greatly over the last couple months. Near the beginning of the year they were decent, but they have steadily rose as the season progressed. This matches my eye test as well because it seems that the Jets have been playing a lot better recently even when they have lost a few games.

Art – We’ll you can’t put Hellebuyck out for the next 41 games for the rest of the season so Mason will have to draw in at some point. For what it’s worth, I don’t feel Mason isn’t exactly an automatic L for the Jets, it just seems right now like the team plays a different game in front of Mason right now which is partly due to bad timing and partly due to the fact they may not have the same kind of confidence in Mason being able to bail out bad defensive decisions as they do with Hellebuyck and given what has happened this season so far there is no reason to think otherwise with Mason. This isn’t to say Mason has been bad, it’s probably more of a case that Hellebuyck has been so good, so our level of expectation for the Jets goaltending has been raised.

Kyle – Unfortunately for Mason there is no good reason to start him outside of back to backs or busy stretches. Hellebuyck has been too good for the entire season to just not start a game. That being said, goalies fluctuate greatly during the season so if Helle begins to falter at all, it would be nice to have Mason ready to go.

Art – There is an argument to be made for a team management to look at a first place club at the deadline and go “this is the team here, we have faith in them to stay status quo” and players could be encouraged by that. The 1999 Dallas Stars made one very small deal for a bottom six forward for depths sake while teams like the Red Wings and Avalanche loaded the hell up with rent-A-stars and top tier talent. The reasoning they had was that they felt they already had a great team in place and didn’t need to mess with a great thing going. The Stars players took that to heart and made it a bit of a rallying point the rest of that season.

The Jets aren’t in that position. If there is a chance to bring in a rental top six forward or a pending UFA top four defenseman for a reasonable price at the deadline, the Jets should pull that trigger if this club remains where it is and even has home advantage for a playoff round or two. They have the assets available to them to make a deal and still not really disturb the main makeup of the current roster and I’m sure it will be very much appreciated by the Jets current top players that reinforcements have been brought in for a hopefully deep playoff run.

Kyle – I don’t think we are looking to add any pieces. I have said from the start of the year that the only pieces they might want is an upgraded 4th line center to replace Hendricks or maybe an upgraded winger over Tanev or Copp. They definitely do not need to make any sort of deal as the team is still on the upswing and is not really expected to contend this year. With the Moose playing great, and the young guns developing, it seems that the Jets are building a perennial contender. There is no need to make any deals to sacrifice the future.