Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tavis Yost of TSN,
One of the big reasons why the Western Conference playoff race is so captivating this year is tied into the emergence of the Winnipeg Jets as a legitimate contender. Combine that with Nashville’s explosion in the standings, and you’re looking at a quarter of the playoff berths in the West potentially going to teams who many had on the outside looking in last October.
Make no mistake, a big reason why Winnipeg has looked better in the standings this year of is tied into improvement in the goaltending department. Michael Hutchinson has been a blessing for Paul Maurice’s team, and even Ondrej Pavelec has turned things around a bit this season. Relatively speaking, it’s the best goaltending the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise has seen.
The goaltending has carried things along, but it’s important to note that Winnipeg’s also playing significantly better from a possession standpoint this season, too. At Arctic Ice Hockey, Garret Hohl did an excellent job explaining the team’s spike in Score-Adjusted Corsi% this season (53.3% year-to-date, good for 9th in the NHL), and how three of Winnipeg’s four lines are generally out-playing the opposition.
This, of course, brings us to the most important question of all. We know the team can skate with most opponents. We know the goaltending’s improved – although there’s a degree of uncertainty as to whether or not the Hutchinson/Pavelec duo can hold on. If you are Kevin Cheveldayoff and are looking to improve this club at the trade deadline, how do you do it?
from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,
The addition of Trouba, probably the team’s best player on the blue line before Dustin Byfuglien reclaimed his kingdom, complicates matters further, and will no doubt have someone like Jay Harrison looking over his shoulder.
Enter GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, given a prime opportunity to improve his team where it needs it most: up front.
This won’t be easy. But as they say, no pain, no gain.
Cheveldayoff could just put Pardy, Postma and Harrison on the market and see what offers he gets.
The return would be minimal, though — likely a late-round draft pick.
Sending them down to the minors risks losing them for nothing in a waiver claim.
Some of the Jets’ more valuable pieces — Stuart, Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom, even Byfuglien — will have to be in play.
Sacrilege, you say?
Just good business.
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
... fallout from Friday's game includes the loss of red-hot Jets forward Mathieu Perreault to an apparent arm injury after taking a vicious slash from Blackhawks winger Daniel Carcillo late in the second period.
Carcillo received a slashing minor, but the Jets didn't even get a power play, since Mark Scheifele was called for slashing.
“It was a vicious cross-check to an unsuspecting player,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, who said Perreault would be further evaluated on Saturday. “This was as big a character win as we've had since I've been here.”
more on Winnipeg's 4-2 win over Chicago...
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
Perreault's four-goal game was the first in Jets 2.0 history and just the third in franchise history, with Ilya Kovalchuk providing the last one as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, on Nov. 11 of 2005 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Perreault opened the scoring at 7:24, then extended the lead four minutes later with a power-play goal that came on a quick wrister.
Perreault's third goal of the game required a lengthy look from the off-ice officials, who determined the Jets' versatile forward had indeed deflected home a point shot by Toby Enstrom at 15:23 of the second period.
Once the goal was finally announced during a stoppage in play, the ice was littered with hats as Perreault became just the second player in Jets 2.0 history to score three times in a game.
In case you've forgotten, Bryan Little, on Dec. 5 against the Colorado Avalanche, is the other.
But Perreault wasn't done there, jamming in a rebound after Michael Frolik was stopped on a breakaway at 16:32 of the second period.
Perreault nearly scored a fifth during the third period and the crowd showed their appreciation on several occasions.
“That was awesome. I got chills,” said Perreault. “I almost couldn't believe it.”
Watch the goals below..
Dustin Byfuglien with hits on Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar in the first minute of play last night.
Byfuglien did receive a hooking penatly for the Kopitar hit.
via Winnipeg Jets release,
The Winnipeg Jets announced they have re-assigned forward Patrice Cormier & defenceman Keaton Ellerby to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League. The Winnipeg Jets also announced they have activated defenceman Toby Enstrom, forward Evander Kane & defenceman Mark Stuart from IR.
The Jets are activating three players from injured reserve today in Toby Enstrom, Evander Kane & Mark Stuart. Enstrom was placed on IR retroactive to Nov. 24 with a lower body injury and has missed 19 games. Kane has been on IR since Dec. 28 and has been out of the lineup for five games with a lower body injury. Stuart, also out with a lower body injury, was on IR retroactive to Dec. 17 and has missed nine games. All three are eligible to return tonight versus the Los Angeles Kings.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic's goal with 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Winnipeg remains in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Western Conference despite major injury issues. They’re missing four regular defensemen in Jacob Trouba, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, and Mark Stuart. None is expected back soon. The Jets are also without Evander Kane, their dynamic left wing, until next month because of a lower-body injury.
They’d be in a whole lot of trouble had Dustin Byfuglien not been working his stuff at both ends of the rink this season. In this way, Byfuglien will deserve Hart Trophy consideration if the Jets qualify for the postseason for the first time since arriving in Winnipeg.
Byfuglien is type of hard-to-find hybrid (San Jose’s Brent Burns being another) that teams will continue to chase because of their value and versatility. In one unique, XXL package, Byfuglien is a body-smashing power forward and a smooth-moving defenseman who can play in all situations while occupying just one roster spot.
Byfuglien started the season up front because of Winnipeg’s depth on defense. The Jets’ best lineup had Byfuglien and Kane flanking young pivot Mark Scheifele, giving the line skill, speed, and power. When the Jets went on the power play, Byfuglien moved back to the point to maximize his vision and puck-pounding slap shot.
more plus other hockey topics...
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
“Keep the blue out!”
At this late juncture, it’d probably be hard to do, but maybe the Wild should take a page out of the Nashville Predators’ book (and the St. Louis Blues’, Buffalo Sabres’, Edmonton Oilers’ and even the Miami Dolphins’) and orchestrate a way to keep Winnipeg Jets die-hards out of its rink April 6 … and beyond.
It’s become a tradition since Atlanta’s move to our frigid neighbor to the north in 2011, but Jets fans — many who can’t get into MTS Centre because the small rink is overrun by season-ticket holders — travel by the busload to fill Xcel Energy Center whenever the Jets visit St. Paul.
That was the case Dec. 27. Jets fans were everywhere.
Lower bowl, club level, upper bowl, loud (we’ll call ’em) … passionate fans dressed in blue cheered the boys from Winnipeg and mocked Wild fans anytime the Jets scored. During the national anthem, they screamed in an ode to the Jets’ owners, “True North,” and chanted throughout, “Go Jets Go!”
When Andrew Ladd scored a fluky goal to win the game in overtime, it was so noisy, you would have thought the Wild won.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
For an organization that has been accused of being risk-averse over the years, the Winnipeg Jets have become interesting for me.
In goal, former backup Michael Hutchinson’s .937 save percentage leads the entire NHL. He’s wrestled the No. 1 job away from Ondrej Pavelec, and wouldn’t it be interesting if that consistent, everyday No. 1 had been under the Jets’ nose all along?
Up front, they’ve managed to lose their last two games without Evander Kane (lower body), who is out until February.
With some improvement 5-on-5, Winnipeg could be a playoff team for the first time since returning to Manitoba. Will GM Kevin Cheveldayoff have the moves in him at the March 2 trade deadline to get his team over the top? That’s always the question in Winnipeg.
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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