The Winnipeg Jets played two games this week following their return home from Finland. The general consensus amongst most fans was that the Jets would either come out flying or flat against the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils. Much to the delight of the home town fans, the Jets won both games by a score of 5 – 2 playing two of the most complete games they’ve played all season.
We’re moving into seeing the type of consistent play at both ends that we had hoped coming out of last year’s playoffs. So, is there anything to worry about? Let’s check in with how we’re doing using our Weekly Jets Anxiety Check-In using the arbitrary three-level anxiety scale:
Not At All Worried
Panic/Losing Sleep Worried
Blake Wheeler – Not at All Worried
It turns out that rumours of Blake Wheeler’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. I am definitely one of the fans who have been worried about him as he just did not seem to be his normal self. There was considerable speculation about whether Wheeler was suffering from an injury or fatigue. While we may never know for sure, we do know that he had a five point game against Colorado followed by a two point night against New Jersey. He’s currently on pace to surpass last year’s point total of 91 points. As of November 12 he leads the Jets with 23 points, including an NHL leading 20 assists. Wheeler does this playing against opponents’ top lines, plays on the penalty kill, and is the key cog in our dominant power play (Patrick Laine really should buy him something nice this year for Christmas). I’m with Jamie McLennan – let’s give the man more love.
I’m officially not at all worried about Blake Wheeler as he continues to be the heart and soul of the Jets.
Secondary Scoring – Not At All Worried
The Jets now sit 14th in the NHL at 3.19 goals for per game, thanks to scoring 18 goals in the last four games. Paul Maurice has not been shy about changing line combinations and it is starting to pay dividends. Nikolaj Ehlers seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch playing on the top line; Kyle Connor – Bryan Little – Mathieu Perreault seem to have developed some chemistry and consistently apply pressure on opposing defenses; and Jack Roslovic looked like he did last year utilizing his speed to get to pucks playing on the fourth line. Lowry – Tanev – Laine … well, they’re coming along. Laine still seems to be unable to score at even strength and is prone to long periods of relative inactivity on the ice, but hey, we’re trending in the right direction. And, now is not the time to start worrying about paying a power play specialist $10 million per year, right? Overall, it looks to me that the early season scoring woes for the Jets as a team are beginning to fade.
Nashville Predators – Moderately to Panic/Losing Sleep Level Worried
Though the Vegas Golden Knights officially ended our Stanley Cup dreams last year, the best team we played last year in the playoffs were the Nashville Predators. The game seven victory last year in Nashville was the pinnacle of the Jets season last year, and it did seem that the Jets came out flat in the next series against the Golden Knights. This year, as of November 11 the Nashville Predators are sitting at 13 – 3 including 8 – 0 on the road. They are a deep team with possibly the best defence core in the NHL. My worries stems from my belief that at this time, the Jets are just not as good, not only in record, but our roster is just not as strong. All roads lead to the Stanley Cup for the Jets run through Nashville, and we may need some roster tweaking if we hope to beat them. At this time I’m very, very worried about facing them in another seven game elimination playoff series.