New Year not kind to jets

After closing out 2011 with a win and jumping into seventh in the Eastern Conference, everything has been going wrong for the Jets. They haven’t even played their first game of 2012 and thanks to wins by Ottawa, Washington and Toronto the Jets find themselves once again tied with the Maple Leafs – but this time for ninth place.

Controversy has found the club thanks to the poor play & slow recovery of Jets winger Eric Fehr, though to me this is being blown up by the media to fill their quotas over a three-day break between games.

I’m sure everyone had hoped Fehr would have a return of the likes that Crosby had when he came back (albeit briefly) but Eric Fehr is not Crosby and is coming off a bad shoulder injury. There is a lot to overcome with that type of recovery, not the least of it the mental aspect.

Will it hold up to contact? Can I shoot the same as before? Is my aim the same? And many more questions that could fill the length of this entire story. The point is that shoulder injuries are tough to come back from and take time, – maybe even an entire season. It’s not a bone that broke and healed, it’s up there with a knee injury.

When a player comes back from a knee injury they have to learn to skate again. Not primarily from the physical side of it but the mental side. They need to learn to trust their knee will do what they are telling it to do and in some cases, they will have to adapt their skating style because the knee is never really the same again.

A shoulder is the same thing except replace skating with shooting, passing and puck control. It will take time and it will take a goal or two until Fehr’s confidence is back up. The problem is that he’s found himself in a catch 22 situation. If he doesn’t play better, he won’t get the ice time he needs to get his confidence up and if he doesn’t get his confidence up, he won’t start playing better.

So what Noel said was bang on. The team is winning so it’s up to Fehr to find a way to fix it. If the Jets had dropped out of the playoff race like Carolina you could afford to give him more ice time to find his stride but you can’t when every point counts. Sending him to St. John’s is not an option as some team would take a chance with him, so all you can do is hope he can figure it out.

As a team the Jets had to be unhappy with the scores around the league the last two nights. About the only thing worse for the Jets in a game between Ottawa and New Jersey then one of them winning, was the game going to overtime and sure enough it did.

It has got to be frustrating for the players to have fought so hard to get above the line only to lose it without losing a game. Tonight we will see if this is a team that is going to stay in the race, because there should be no excuse to come out flat on the road in Montreal. Out of their next four games, this is, on paper, the easiest opponent that is having no shortage of problems.

Following it up with games in Toronto, Buffalo and Boston – all teams in the playoff picture – it will be important that the Jets find a way to win three out of four and you would much rather win the first three before you play the Bruins who will be ready for revenge after the Jets won their last meeting.

2012 has started out rocky for the Jets, but the good news is it wasn’t anything they could control. Tonight in Montreal we’ll see if they can turn it in the right direction or not.

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of winnipegwhiteout.com and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.

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