Photo credit:© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Grading the Winnipeg Jets forwards first quarter
By Goose3 months ago
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We have skated through the first quarter of the Winnipeg Jets’ 2023-24 season, the team finds itself basking in the glow of another promising start. For some it feels like a there is a chance for this team to be great others have seen this tale play out before. They are currently playing their best 5-on-5 hockey since returning to the city and are currently in third in the very top heavy Central Division with a 12-7-2 record. Sure there have been some down games but who plays a perfect 82 games in a season? But how do the individual lines hold up to being graded? Lets dive in and explore each line of the Jets in the first part of the regular season.
Connor- Scheifele- Iafallo
Although this line was just broken up by head coach Rick Bowness, they have been fun to watch. Mark Schiefele after signing his contract to potentially remain in Winnipeg for the rest of his NHL career has been playing some of his best hockey since 2018. Defensively he looks really engaged, maybe he had come to Christ moment over the summer where he reilized he will only be a great player in the NHL if he plays a full 200 foot game with aggression.
Alex Iafallo has been a welcome surprise to the club after being traded in the summer for Pierre-Luc Dubois. I was expecting a run of the mill bottom sixer. Iafallo stepped up into the first line like a champ, which should have been expected since he has played with the top end skill of the LA Kings. The man digs for pucks in the corners and is stripping players it, once he has it he knows to get it to Kyle Connor and Scheifele. Although the points aren’t there ( four goals and 13 points) the effort is there. Not only that he is able to eat up a good chunk of ice time( 17:44). Bowness pulled the trigger on splitting Iafallo up from Connor and Scheifele at the right time.I’m honestly not too sure when we will see that trio together for an extended time again.
Connor has been a stud through the first quarter scoring 14 goals in 21 games, keeping pace with Auston Mattews. (watch out for those American scorers the next time we get a proper world hockey tournament) Much like Scheifele the defensive effort has gotten better for the Jets top scorer. I will say that the passes need to stop always going to him but that’s not in his control, he does have a great shot and it should be used but maybe not that much.
Overall these three have gotten me excited when I see them on the ice. I know your line won’t score every night but there have been nights where I wonder what they are doing offensively some nights. They have won some games for the team and everyone has surprised me on this line with their play. Overall B+.
Cole Perfetti has been one of the most interesting players on this team. I genuinely thought that this was going to be a waste of talent for the young man. But after a slow start, and games with less than 10 minutes of ice time he has picked up his performance and is looking like a legit NHLer. He is no longer making those stupid moves that are going to end up getting him hurt. Cole Perfettiy is a future top 15 superstar in the NHL will most likely be an All Star for the team within the next 3 years. We are just starting to see the brilliance of Perfetti The face offs do need to get better for the 2020 first round draft pick if he does want to cement himself as a centerman in the NHL. But with 7 goals and 17 points through 21 games. The sky’s limits for young Jets forward.
Vladislov Namestikov has been such a blessing to the Winnipeg Jets sincejoining the organization at last season in a trade. With just two goals and 9 assists in 21 games doesn’t seem like a great number but you need to remember he is a bottom sixer in the NHL at this point in his career. That being said we can confidently say the Russian born player is a bit of a work horse for the team. He stands at just 6 foot and it’s a 180 pounds, but you would never guess it the way he plays. The chemistry is starting to develop between him and his line mates, which could be useful in the future if there is another major injury to the Jets top line. The man has been a rock on the second line while we are waiting for the return of Gabriel Vilardi. His faceoffs straight up suck this season only winning 36 percent of them. He has been a good stop gap for the time being but will excel on the fourth line once the team is healthy.
Nikolaj Ehlers is finally back to his good old self. It’s fun to finally see him fly on the ice again and get into a fight and stand up for his boys. It’s almost hard to believe he has 6 goals and 11 points in 21 games the way he has been playing the last 10 games. The Danish born player is only going to get better and if he can stay healthy the squawking from fans will stop that he is made of glass.
This line is starting to get better as they build chemistry. They are a little small for my liking. If we had a younger Namestnikov life would be sweet. Overall I’ll give these guys C. I want to see more out of these beauties.
Adam Lowry has truly put the team on his back as captain of the Jets. Through 21 games, he has 4 goals and 13 points, which is fantastic for your third line centreman. Lowry is mr.stable winning 50% of his faceoffs, dishing out 40 hits and is always in the middle of a scrum. There’s not much more I can say other than the captian is playing solid game. I still don’t know a soul who has questioned Lowry as captain.
Nino Niederreiter has been so much fun to watch. He is never invisible on the ice, always just given’r. Has been just such a good addition to this team since being traded to the Jets last spring. Already the Swiss player has 6 goals and 8 assists with one hatrick to start the season. He is putting up .75 points per game which is unbelievable for the verteran NHLer it’s a higher points per game than he has ever seen in his career. He’s playing his best hockey at the age of 31 with Lowry and Mason Appleton.
Mason Appleton, my favorite Ginger on this squad. He has been using his speed and has truly been playing his best hockey of his career. He has had so many road blocks in his career from injuries to going to Seattle for the expansion draft and playing on line lines he had no reason to play on yet we are now seeing the best out of the American. Appleton is another player succeeding off of the coat tails of Adam Lowry. Appleton has 21 games, played 6 goals and 15 points again. Just very impressive for a guy that I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in to start this season.
Even with The last 5 games have been slow. This line has been leaps and bounds better than we could have expected. This line is probably the best third line in the NHL. Some people will be like well look at the Dallas Stars. They’ve got a great third line and yes, that’s a very talented third line. But the jets third line is the best example of what a third line should be tough. Gritty and could still put goals into the back of the net with a good system. Overall these guys get an A plus
Barron- Gustafsson- Kupari
Morgan Baron is continuing to progress in his hockey career in the right way. Three goals and five points through 21 games doesn’t look like a great start, but he is playing about 10:28 a night. he is looking Sharp. nine takeaway’s and only four giveaway’s. The cycle of the fourth line has been stupendous and really it couldn’t be as good as it is without Barron. You know, although he hasn’t been laying the body. He is a menace when it comes to being a part of the cycle to goes out to Fish the puck of the corner. He just do everything right. The jets seriously need to sign this kid to a long extension and get him as cheap as possible. Because somebody is going to want Morgan Barron asap and it better be the Jets who pick him up.
Here comes the Gus bus! It’s so nice to see David Gustafsson and get 2 goals early on this season. He was four years between goals for the guy. Now he’s got 2/3 of his NHL career goals in just one season. He is very important to the jet’s fourth line cycle. Which ultimately helps the Jets get goals. I’ve been so impressed with him. He has won 47.2 percent of his face offs constantly fishing out pucks like Barron while also finding himself right place at the right time. You do need to remember he is playing just 8 and a 1/2 minutes of average ice time a night. You do tend to not notice when David gustison is out because he’s consistently playing his game and it’s a good style of game. Will he be much more than a fourth line centermanin the NHL? probably not. But he’s doing exactly what we need him to do this season.
Rasmus Kupari has been a stud for the Winnipeg jets since being traded here in the summer. Yeah, he only had one assist to start his season off. But that guy was firing pucks left right and center. He wanted to score. His face off numbers weren’t great. Only winning 44.3% of his draws. Overall he’s been a dynamic player for Winnipeg he is to consistently going get the Puck. The fourth liner already through 22 shots through 15 games. For a fourth liner we should be happy with those numbers. His time will come to be a great NHL bottom sixer one day soon, he’s only 23 years old. There’s still so much that this guy can accomplish good backcheck good forecheck constantly needing being where he needs to be can’t wait to see Rasmus kapari return to the Jets.
Overall, these guys just aren’t as noticeable as I want them to be for the team. But that’s I mean, that’s just your fourth line. I’m gonna give them a c minus
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