© Geoff Brookes.
The Winnipeg Jets continue to wrack up points in the standings. Going back as far as November 25, they’ve earned at least 1 point in 11 of their last 12 games! The only game that they’ve lost in regulation time during that 12 game stretch was against the Anaheim Ducks.
This, despite playing without Enstrom or Bogosian, and more recently Jacob Trouba and Mark Stuart. Jets fans have witnessed the rebirth of Dustin Byfuglien as an absolutely dominant defenceman! Coincidentally, Ben Chiarot has emerged as a solid NHL defenceman, playing alongside Byfuglien. Clitsome, previously the 7th defenceman on the roster, has played solid defensively for the most part. And after Stuart went down to injury, the Jets acquired another solid defender in Jay Harrison, in a trade with Carolina. Harrison and Clitsome have played well together, and now form the 2nd defence pairing. Adam Pardy and Paul Postma have also played fairly well, but are now the third pairing. Enstrom might be the first one back, sometime in mid-January, with Bogosian, Stuart and Trouba perhaps returning in late January to late February. It certainly sounds like a very long time for the Jets to survive without these top Blueliners. Here’s hoping for an early return for Enstrom!
The formula for the Jets success has been to start games really well, often getting the game’s first goal, controlling the play, and outshooting their opponent. The Jets sometimes have a let down as the game wears on – e.g. blowing 2 goal leads in the third period against Colorado and Philadelphia (last night). The Jets still escaped those 2 games with a point in the standings, but the overtime/shootout losses have to sting a little. Even in the recent regulation win over Boston, the Jets were outshot in each of the final 2 periods. It’s not entirely clear what is leading to these let downs. It seems possible to me that the Jets actually put so much effort into their dominant first period performances that they may actually be out of energy later in the game. Alternatively, the seem too content to simply dump the puck out of their own end when they have the lead, instead of continuing to play the very strong puck possession game that they play early on in each game.
The Jets will need to get a break, and get some healthy players back. Over one 7 day period, from January 10 to January 16, they play 5 games! If they’re tired now, wait ‘till they hit that wall! Hello, Toby! We need you back!
Hutchinson – brilliant. 7-2-3, a stupendous .940 save percentage, and a 1.70 goals against average!
Pavelec – a solid year – much needed! .916 save percentage, 2.27 GAA
Jacob Trouba – playing like one of the top 20 defencemen in the league, until he got injured.
Dustin Byfuglien – superb play. He’s been dominant since returning to the blue-line. By all fan/media accounts, he’s a defenceman henceforth.
Mathieu Perrault – excellent effort and instincts.
Mark Scheifele – playing like an all-star. We’re seeing his confidence take off like a rocket ship. He’s shooting like a 50 goal scorer. He had 2 separate 3 point nights, and had the MTS Centre chanting his name like they did in the first ever Jets 2.0 preseason game!
Bryan Little – playing the best hockey of his career so far. The perfect team player, with a great knack for scoring around the net.
Overall team play – absolutely solid.
I’m expecting a bit of a let down in a tough game against Chicago, on the road, just before the Christmas break. The team needs to come back sharp right after Christmas for a key home/home match-up versus the playoff rivals, the Minnesota North Stars. I’m hoping that the Jets – several of whom are from Minnesota – get a nice break over the holidays, and then come up with a big game down in Minneapolis after Christmas on the 27th. If they can follow that up with another big win at home, it would be a massive step forward for this team.
Go Jets Go!!!!!!!!