Hate is a strong word, but my dad certainly has distain for Blake Wheeler.
Wait, let me back-up for a second.
My dad is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He can at times be bristly and gruff. First impressions mean a lot to him. Needless to say, Blake Wheeler didn't make a strong impact on him initially.
Regardless whether the team plays well or poorly, dad always has critique for Wheeler. If he isn't ranting on his seeming inability to handle the puck, Wheeler's skating stride and propensity for falling flat on his face are normally where he will direct his ire. Putting it mildly, he finds the lumbering power-forward to be underwhelming given his tool-set. Even when he does well, he's apparently doing wrong. I can't really fault dad, since many fans of the Winnipeg Jets are in the same boat. Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Ron Hainsey… well, quite practically any defenceman ever to play for the Jets have been subject to our confirmation bias. Unless your name is Zach Bogosian, chances are fans have demanded your trade or outright release.
Over the past five months I discovered the genius of Matthew Berry. Mired in the dungeon of my fantasy football league's standings four years running, I was desperate to find any additional material I could to curb this trend at our August draft. Turns out, I drafted a fantastic team; one that I chose to blow up because it wasn't producing early. I'm now 3-7 and still mired in losing. But I love Matthew Berry. Hold on, that doesn't convey it well enough. I love Matthew Berry.
Soon after discovering Berry's content at ESPN.com, I was hooked. I started downloading his daily fantasy podcasts and bought his book. In reading his New York Times Best-Seller, I discovered many commonalities, something that will fleshed out in coming editions of this weekly article. 2013 has been extremely trying in both my personal and professional careers and Matthew's Fantasy Football coverage has been an incredible coping device for me. Like I said I love, love, love me some Matthew Berry.
On a recent road trip, I came up with an idea for fresh content that allows me to story-tell (something I love doing, in case it wasn't evident) while at the same time providing you with the Winnipeg Jets' coverage you crave. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I decided to vulture the concept of Matthew Berry's Love Hate column and, like slapping lipstick on a pig, hack together my own variation of it.
So, without further adieu, here is the first Arctic Ice Hockey Love Hate for the week of November 11 - November 17:
Three things I love this week:
Honour your vets: Although this took place preceding Sunday night's puck drop against the San Jose Sharks, it has to be mentioned that True North Sports and Entertainment knocked their Remembrance Day service out of the park. Len Kropioski, a veteran of World War II was given centre stage during the singing of the national anthems. It was a fantastic gesture.
Send in the clowns: Oh good, the Philadelphia Flyers are coming to town. A team bogged down by a 5-10-1 record, the Flyers make their trip to Winnipeg on Thursday having scored a league low 26 goals for. Also sporting a -18 goal differential, it will be imperative for the Jets to escape this game with points to keep up in the Western Conference race.
Sweet Setoguchi: After a slow start. Devin Setoguchi has really pieced together a string of strong performances. He has scored 4 of his 9 points (2G, 2A) over the past 5 games. Furthermore, he's drawing 1.8 penalties per 60 minutes, including two Sunday night. It's no wonder that as he rounds into form, so have the Jets.
Three things I hate this week:
Power play, woah's: Make no mistake, Winnipeg's power play has been dreadful for awhile now. Presently, they are operating at a 9.8% clip on the year, 30th in NHL. Things won't get any easier against Philadelphia (PK 85.3%) and Detroit (PK 84.2%) but the Jets' might have chance to get things going in Minnesota on Sunday (PK 78.3%).
Rolling three lines: It's no secret that Claude Noel has a tendency to limit his bench to three lines during games. Against San Jose, forward Eric Tangradi garnered only two third period shifts shifts while Chris Thorburn saw only one in the 5-4 comeback. Hopefully they are able to establish early leads this week as neither the Detroit Red Wings nor the Minnesota Wild have a player averaging less than ten shifts per game.
Figuring out face-offs: A sore spot each of the last three seasons, the Jets are still struggling in the face-off dot. Currently, they sit last in the NHL with a success rate of 44.3%. This week they face two teams in Minnesota (55.1%, 2nd) and Detroit (51.9%, 11th) who are much better in this aspect of the game. As Winnipeg enjoys much of their success when owning puck possession numbers, their lack of won draws could pose big problems this week.
Ed Note.: Due to Remembrance Day, our love hate column will ran on Tuesday this week. Look for us to return next Monday with our second edition.