by Ryan Reyes
Jets Realistically Out of The Playoffs
Let’s face it Jets nation, the Winnipeg Jets are out of the playoff hunt. We would have to win all 12 remaining games to even have a chance of making it to the postseason party. There’s really nothing else to do but finish off the season strong. If we could have a nice little run while further developing our youngsters and improving our defensive habits I’d be satisfied with that.
The Laine vs. Matthews Calder Memorial Trophy race(or Matthews vs. Laine, if you live in Ontario ha!) is the most exciting thing Jets fans have to look forward to this season. If Patrik goes on a tear and scores 12 goals in 12 games he’d tie Dale Hawerchuk’s record for most goals by an 18 year old. The trophy would be his. Or to a lesser extent, if he ends up with 10 or more points than Matthews I believe he’d still bag the hardware.
– Patrik Laine is on pace for 40 goals and 79 points.
– Auston Matthews is on pace for 37 goals and 66 points.
“He brings it every night. He sets that standard. He’s somebody a lot of our guys can look up to.”
-Blake Wheeler on Dustin Byfuglien’s work ethic as quoted by Kristina Rutherford of Sportsnet
Big Talk About Big Buff
Read the previous quote again. Do you 100% believe Wheeler? I won’t answer that myself just yet. After paying closer attention to the play of our defensemen over this last little stretch here’s what I’ve observed about Buff: he’s definitely a step slower than last year and his high-risk style has left the Jets on the bad end of a few more odd-man rushes this year. This isn’t anything new. It’s just a little bit more of the little bit bad. But… taking a step back and looking at it from a wider perspective you can attribute much of this to fatigue. Everyone knows Buff is logging over 27 minutes of ice time. Winnipeg has had to lean on him because of injuries; most notably to Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba and Toby Enstrom(wow that’s half of our starting defencemen!). So yes he does bring it as Wheeler says but let’s bring it every time. Some of the onus has to be on the big guy as well. Holding back on an offensive zone rush or 2 per game and a bit more focus on the defensive end would be nice baby steps.
My take isn’t meant to sound so negative. We all love Big Buff. Offensively he hasn’t regressed as much as people think. Yes his goals and shooting percentage are down but we have had more than enough firepower to compensate for this slight dip. He’s an enigma and his value to the Jets is right up there.
There’s another factor that’s even more important than his on-ice play. It’s his off-ice leadership. We aren’t privy to what is said in the dressing room so it’s challenging to truly discuss this factor. Buff hasn’t been one to extensively voice his opinions or feelings to the media as well. But it’s painfully obvious that Buff is one of the pilots(if not the head pilot) that leads the Jets squadron. When he’s focused the Jets are humming. If he completely buys into Paul Maurice’s preachings of defensive responsibility then the rest of the team will follow. Maybe he needs to be a bit more vocal. Or maybe, just maybe… he needs to dump someone’s track suit in the shower… or is the trendy thing jogger sweatpants nowadays?
Photo source: NHL.com