There was a time when I loved the Coyotes. A time when a naive 8 year old let his heart follow the Jets to the desert and cheer on a bunch that included Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick and Rick Tocchet.
Those days are over.
The Desert Dogs bring a scowl to my face every time I hear them mentioned. them and those crumb bums from Sunrise.
So it DEFINITELY brings a scowl to my face to see the Yote's doing well this year, despite the fact that there are exactly 15 fans that attend games in Glendale. (don't let the attendance figures fool you).
Phoenix has a record of 13-7-3 this year, good enough for 29 points and first place in the Pacific Division. They boast a 7-3-1 record on the road and knocked off the Jets 4-1 earlier this year. The Jets played bad in that one. in a related story, they played good enough to lose on Tuesday as they dropped a 6-4 decision to the Senators.
The Jets have repeatedly silenced their critics about their inabilities to score, but it is the defensive aspect of the game that is furrowing brows and eliminating finger nails at an alarming rate. The team just cannot seem to protect a lead, and it's continued willingness to take stupid penalties has shot them in the foot far too often
That being said: GO JETS GO!
Keys to the Game, Player Numbers and Lineups after THE JUMP
Keys to the Game:
- Press the shots: I know this fell in Byfuglien's lap twice, but last game there were two goals by the Sens where the Jets allowed the Ottawa player to snap a shot at Pavelec unopposed from in close. This can't happen. He isn't playing lights out great, so we have to assume that chances like that go in. Fix that by eliminating those chances. Speaking of which...
- If you have the lead, protect it: The wide open hockey is very entertaining for the neutrals and leads to a lot of scoring opportunities...at both ends of the rink. The Jets squandered leads on multiple occasions Tuesday and failed to protect them. This has been a common scene this year (see the first Flyers game for an example).
- Dustin Byfuglien: Honestly...what the hell? This man is a mystery wrapped in an enigma in a riddle. You just don't know what you're going to get any given second. He can be stirring
the shitit up in the offensive zone one second, then watching a 2 on 1 go the other way and score the next. He can be defensively awesome, playing a good physical game, or he can just stand back and watch as teams circle in for the kill. I don't get it. He just isn't trustworthy on the ice, which is a bad thing that can only go unaddressed for so long.
- Evander Kane: 7 goals in his last 7 games suggests he is becoming the star we all want him to be.
- Radim Vrbata: 6 goals in his last 6 games suggests that Winnipeg should not let him walk in alone on the goalie.
- Mike Smith: He's rocking a 12-4-3 record, a 2.13 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Not bad for a 2 million dollar free agent pick up.
- Power play: Score on 5 on 3's. You have to. This is non-negotiable.
Jets (GP 23 9-10-4 22 PTS)
#9 Evander Kane -- #18 Bryan Little -- #26 Blake Wheeler
#16 Andrew Ladd -- #8 Alexander Burmistrov-- #13 Kyle Wellwood
#15 Tanner Glass -- #19 Jim Slater -- #17 Eric Fehr
#41 Jason Jaffray -- #14 Tim Stapleton -- #48 Carl Klingberg
#5 Mark Stuart -- #39 Dustin Byfuglien
#29 Johnny Oduya -- #4 Zach Bogosian
#44 Arturs Kulda -- #36 Mark Flood
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
Now I'm walking out on a limb here so bear with me. But if I were the coach this is the lineup I'd be going with, assuming Nik Antropov is on the shelf. Steam Punk is capable of playing centre, and Chris Thorburn or Jaff would be the odd ones out with the insertion of Klingberg. And yes those bottom two lines actually made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.
#89 Mikkel Boedker -- #22 Daymond Langkow -- #19 Shane Doan
#13 Ray Whitney -- #11 Martin Hanzal -- #17 Radim Vrbata
#14 Taylor Pyatt -- #15 Boyd Gordon -- #28 Lauri Korpikoski
#37 Raffi Torres -- #24 Kyle Chipchura -- #18 Patrick O`Sullivan
#3 Keith Yandle -- #53 Derek Morris
#23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- #33 Adrian Aucoin
#16 Rostislav Klesla -- #6 David Schlemko
#41 Mike Smith
Dear whoever does the hyperlinks for sbnation. Just use an apostrophe in O'Sullivan. Not...whatever the hell that thing is called.
Player to boo without mercy:
Ilya Bryzgalov Patrick O'Sullivan: for giving me hyperlink troubles.
Player to cheer like it's 1996: Shane Doan. I respected his comments about wanting to stay in Phoenix. It's been his home for 15 years, and he's the captain of the team. He said what he was expected to say.
Prediction: Winnipeg 5-3 Phoenix. We're going to take a lead and we're going to hold it, or so help me god I will not invite the Jets to my birthday party