After Thursdays game in Nashville, the Jets have now fallen to a somewhat respectable 4-5-2 start. It really looked like the Jets came to play in that game, peppering Nashville with 36 shots and getting a lot of really good scoring chances.
But it’s the same story you hear about after every game. The Jets couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage, defensive zone breakdowns and inconsistency from the Jets top six. Someone needs to take the blame, and Claude Noel could get the boot if he doesn’t fix something soon.
After a solid first two games, the Jets have lost seven of their last nine, with five of those losses at the MTS Centre. Obviously something Noel was doing during the first two games isn’t working anymore.
What really made me consider Noel’s actions was when he called out Byfuglien for playing well. When a team is not playing well, calling out one singule player really has no advantage. Good on Byfuglien for stepping his game up, but individual performance doesn’t show up in the standings. It doesn’t matter who’s playing well or not, hockey is a team game. If a team is playing well, then you can call out someone to boost confidence. I don’t know the reasoning behind this, but I’m curious what the other players in the dressing room said about it.
What I can’t wrap my mind around is why Evander Kane isn’t playing on the first line. Or better yet, why isn’t he on the first power-play? He has been our best player for the start of the season, leading the team in shots and tied for points. Yet still, he is playing with variants of Jokinen, Setoguchi and Scheifele on the second unit. It’s simple, if you want to win, you play your best players. Noel put Wheeler, Scheifele and Kane together against Nashville, and that line was by far the best for Winnipeg. This is a good start moving forward
Speaking of best players, Noel needs to address the issue in net. Pavelec has played okay, but nowhere near the potential that the Jets are looking for. In Montoya’s only start, he played lights out, shutting out the Devils. Noel needs to show he will do anything to win for the organization, including playing his backup over their star goalie.
In a market like Winnipeg, where people want immediate action, Noel has a tough job. He needs to figure something out soon or else he will join Peter Laviolette in unemployment. The Jets only offered him a one-year contract for this reason. If the Jets don’t fix things soon, expect a new coach behind the bench come Christmas.
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