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Posts Tagged ‘Winnipeg Jets’

Because I’m a Very Busy and Lazy Person

In Hockey on October 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm

AbeSooo yeah. I didn’t exactly meet the opening bell when it came to getting my season previews done. Work and life get in the way, so deal with it.

But I am not about to deny my loyal reader(s) the remainder of these previews. Here they are in fast forward, unchanged from the start of the season, beginning where I left off.

Metropolitan Division

Washington Capitals – 3rd Place
Lots of offense, not alot of defense, but this team is going back to the playoffs.

Atlantic Division

Detroit Red Wings
The move East helps this old roster earn their first divison crown as members of the East.

Boston Bruins
Still a physical and nasty group, the Bruins will contend for the division title but just miss out after playing lots of hockey over an 18-month span.

Ottawa Senators
Maybe the most fun team in the league to watch, but with a few of their top forwards prone to injury, the team lacks depth to contend for the top spot. Still a playoff team though.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Defensive issues and possession numbers don’t favor the Leafs as they aim for a second straight playoff berth. Adding Jonathan Bernier means there’s no easy night for opposing shooters.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Suspect defense and a lack of consistent goaltending spells trouble for the Bolts this season.

Buffalo Sabres
They’re not good and the most entertaining thing about this team will be the Ryan Miller/Thomas Vanek trade watch.

Florida Panthers
Still a young group trying to find their way. Adding Tim Thomas helps, but these guys are a long way away from contending for anything other than a lottery pick.

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks
Loaded at every position, the Blackhawks won’t run over everyone like they did last year but they’re still the class of the NHL.

St. Louis Blues
Great on defense and solid in goal, the Blues are one still one dynamic scorer away from challenging for the top spot in the Central. But man will it suck to play against these guys every night.

/laughs knowing the Sharks pounded the Blues early this year

Minnesota Wild
Still a year or two away from being a serious threat. But this team showed great strides last year and I expect that to continue this year.

Dallas Stars
They’d be higher on this list if I knew Kari Lehtonen wasn’t one play away from falling apart. Still a really good group of young forwards and veterans and a sneaky good defense.

Nashville Predators
They won’t run away with many games this year, but defense and goaltending will keep the Preds in most games this year. Plus, they have American Hero Seth Jones on the rosters, which is awesome.

Colorado Avalanche
A fast and skilled group of forwards makes the Avs a fun team to watch. A shaky defense and spotty goaltending do them in. But man will Patrick Roy be fun to watch as a coach.

Winnipeg Jets
They couldn’t win the worst division in hockey the last two years. That’s bad news as they transition to the West. Ondrej Pavelec is not a franchise goaltender. Why can’t Jets’ management understand this?

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Kings
They have the right mix of skill, toughness and great goaltending. They’ll be in the mix for the Stanley Cup again this year.

San Jose Sharks
It’s the last shot for this group to win. They’ll still roll out world-class talent at forward and have a very good goaltender in Antti Niemi. One serious injury to the forwards will doom the Sharks.

(This was my thought before their red-hot start. I never would have expected what has happened.

Anaheim Ducks
Lucky for you, Pierre Canard has you covered with an actual in-depth preview. Read it now.

Vancouver Canucks
They’re a tire fire waiting to happen, but they still possess some of the best talent in the world. They’re not elite anymore though. And the Sharks own them, which is great for everyone.

Phoenix Coyotes
Still stingy on defense and the score more than you think. I’d be shocked if they didn’t earn the West’s final wild card spot.

Edmonton Oilers
I still don’t trust this team on defense and in net. That’s bad news for a fan base that expects to win now.

Calgary Flames
Oof. Calgary needs to fail badly to try to lock up the top pick in next year’s draft. They’ll battle, but they’re very short on talent.

There ya go. I did not take anything that has happened so far into account for these brief previews. I’m sure everyone will agree with me though…

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m glad I don’t do this for a living. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, because if you like hockey, you’ll like following me.

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2011-12 NHL Season Preview: Winnipeg Jets

In Hockey on September 9, 2011 at 10:56 am

Atlanta Thrashers

A Look Back at 2010-11
Last year, many people were predicting the Atlanta Thrashers would sneak into the playoffs. The young talent was there in each area of the team and they had some time to get used to the NHL. The team also added pieces from the Chicago Blackhawks, who had to unload a ton of contracts. And the Thrashers saw much of that young talent perform early on last year, holding a playoff spot as late as the All-Star break. However, they managed to win 10 out of their final 40 games. That, boys and girls, is not how you get  in the playoffs or generate fan interest. Once the Thrashers were out of the hunt, so were their fans, leading to the team being bought and moved up north. Let us bow our heads in a moment of silence for the second NHL team the city of Atlanta has lost. However, that team was never given a chance to succeed in Atlanta, and the end result wasn’t all that surprising. Management never gave this team a chance to succeed in a non-traditional market. Don’t feed me any BS about how hockey doesn’t work in warm weather cities. It works just fine in Tampa, San Jose, Anaheim, Nashville and LA because there are youth initiatives and community awareness. That should change this year. Grade: F- (I shouldn’t need to explain why. The team had to move for goodness sake.)

Winnipeg Jets

A Look Ahead to 2011-12
Want to generate interest? Move a struggling franchise to a Canadian city. Want to generate more interest? Move to a Canadian city that has lost a franchise in the past. Great job by the new front office to name the new team the Jets as well. Something the city can identify immediately. Now, on to the team.

Forwards

Andrew Ladd flourished last season at the final Thrashers' captain.

For a team that has a bevvy of young talent, the team only had one forward score more than 20 goals last year. That player was team captain Andrew Ladd. Ladd, a former fourth overall pick, showed that he could be an offensive force once he was playing top line minutes. He’s the most sure thing that the Jets will have offensively. Once you get past Ladd, there are four other guys that need to have big season for the Jets to be successful this year; Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. All three guys have 30 goal talent. in fact, Little scored 31 a few years ago. Kane should be the guy that takes a big step forward this year. He improved greatly in his second season, and should be the guy poised to break out. Wheeler, who is a former 21 goal scorer, needs to be given top minutes to produce.  Burmistrov has wicked skills and could be the team’s next breakout star. His numbers weren’t anything great last year, but he showed just how good he could be with goals like this and this. However, he’s only 19 and still getting used to the North American game. He’s a guy to keep an eye on. Eric Fehr came over from Washington and could also give the team another scoring option, assuming he’s recovered from a knee injury. The Jets will have Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn, and Nik Antropov a lock to play minutes, while Aaron Gagnon, Tim Stapleton, Tanner Glass, and Kenndal McArdle will fight for a roster spot. Prostpects Carl Klingberg, Patrice Cormier and Ben Maxwell could see some time with the Jets as well. Grade: C (No one other than Ladd is a lock to score, and that would scare me if I’m a Jets fan.)

Zach Bogosian needs to be better for the Jets this season.

Defense
Offensively, there weren’t many blue lines that generated points like Winnipeg’s last season. Defensively, everyone but Colorado was better than Winnipeg last season. That’s partially because of the system they play in, Craig Ramsey was never known as a defensive guru, and partially a personnel problem. They have a trio of good young defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian. Byfuglien flourished in his moves from Chicago and back to his natural position of defense. He set a new high in goals, assists and points, and remained a power play force. Enstrom also blossomed as one of the league’s best puck-moving defensemen. Even though he’s a smaller defenseman, he can still handle top minutes against the team’s best forwards. Bogosian remains an enigma on the Winnipeg blue line. He has the talent to be a dominant defenseman, but he has yet to put it together. There was talk about the Jets losing patience with Bogosian and placing him on the trade block, but the Jets would want a serious package for him. He needs to deliver soon, as the Jets (then Thrashers) passed on Tyler Myers, Alex Pietrangelo, Erik Karlsson, Tyler Ennis and John Carlson and took Bogosian. Those players have already established themselves in the NHL, Bogosian hasn’t. Perhaps a change in coaching will help him. Ron Hainsey, Mark Stuart and Johnny Oduya round out the Thrasher’s top six. The team would love to dump Hainsey and his large salary, but no one would take on his contract for a d-man that isn’t very good. Derek Meech and Randy Jones provide the team some depth.  Grade: C- (These guys need to be better at preventing goals. They also don’t have anyone that serves as a reliable rear-guard only. Someone like a Douglas Murray. They desperately need that.)

Ondrej Pavelec played better last year than team's record indicates.

Goaltending
Ondrej Pavelec was absolutely phenomenal during the first half of last year. His play slipped in the second half of the season, but that was a product of the team in front of him not being a good team. Pavelec will be back again this year to handle the majority of the goaltending duties. He’s a big body that has shown he has good reflexes and covers a lot of ground. But he’s constantly under fire because of the Jets’ defensive breakdowns. He’s good, but he’s going to have to be extraordinary to get the Jets into the playoffs. He could also use a little help from backup Chris Mason, who was awful last season. I know that in order for the goaltending to be good, the defense needs to be better. But I feel like Pavelec is the right guy for this team. All the Jets front office needs to do is get him someone be a reliable stay-at-home defenseman. Grade: B- (Had the Thrashers made the playoffs last year, Pavelec would have been a Vezina finalist because of how bad the team’s D was last year.)

Prediction
Winnipeg will welcome this team with open arms and the Jets will have something they didn’t have in Atlanta; sell-out crowds. But the Jets still has a long way to go before they will be ready to compete. Everything will need to fall perfectly for the Jets to make the playoffs. It can be done because of how week the bottom part of the East is, but it’s getting stronger. Good luck, Jets. You’re gonna need it. 4th in Southeast, 13th in East.