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Jets year in review

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PRESEASON OUTLOOK Kind of a mixed bag. The defense was in a state of flux, Myers left as a free agent for Vancouver, Trouba wanted out and was traded to the Rangers, underrated Ben Chiarot left for the Canadiens as a free agent. Hopes were taht Big Buff and Morrissey could keep the defense together as the young forwards carried the team. Oh and Kevin Hayes who was the seasons big playoff push among the forwards left for Philly. Some thought the Jets young forwards would keep them in contention in the weak West, others thought they would slip. Then Byfuglien walked out as camp opened weakening the back end even more.


FINAL RECORD 37-28-6 5TH IN THE Central, lost to the Flames in the first round.


HIGH POINT OF THE SEASON At the end of January it appeared they were done, a combination of a pedestrian back end (Luca Sbisa? Really?) injuries to key forwards and asking too much from the brilliant Hellebuyck seemed to have doomed them, when they lost to the Bruins 2-1 on January 31st they were 25-23-4 having lost five straight and 7 of 8.

  Then they caught fire, the impossible climb occurred, they beat the Blues the next night 5-2 starting a tear where they went 12-5-2 down the stretch led mostly by Hellboy, Kyle Connor and Nicolas Ehlers. They were solidly in a playoff position when the season halted.


LOW POINT OF THE YEAR Losing Laine and especially Scheifele in game one of their playoff series against Calgary. The Jets gut check victory in game two tied the series but the Flames outscored them 10-2 over the final two games to end the Jets season.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR Did Scheifele get breaks at home or was he targeted on the road? He had only 12 total PIMs at home, lady Bing material, but on the road he had 33 PIMs nearly four times as many an extremely high discrepancy. Stranger, Scheifele was plus 8 on the road, second highest on the team but minus six at home third worst on the team. 


WHAT WENT RIGHT Kyle Connor developed into a superstar, 38 goals to lead the team 73 points tied with Scheifele for the team lead. Scheifele was a star leading the team in points, PIMs, PPG, ice time among forwards. Blake Wheeler continues to age like fine wine and is among the best passers from the wing in many a year. Laine was nearly a point a game player and had 28 goals. Ehlers came on strong to finish with 25 goals. Pionk came over in the Trouba deal and was better than most people thought on the back end. Roslovic and Copp provided great secondary scoring., Kulikov didnt provide much offense but was an anchor on the back end. Ville Heinola in a limited capacity looked like a potential bright spot on the back end moving forward.

  The key to this team however was Connor Hellebuyck who was a flat out superstar, he is a finalist for the Vezina as he won 31 games, (2nd in the league) and led the league in starts, saves and shutouts. Without him they are nowhere.


WHAT WENT WRONG Matthieu Perreault has slipped and is barely servicable as injuries and age have caught up. Little only appeared in 7 games and is done as someone who can be relied on. Morrissey started slowly, he came around a bit but did not live up to the billing as a true 1D. Lowry like Perreault and Little is done. Somehow Gabriel Bourque played 52 uneventful games at 8 minutes a night while Logan Shaw appeared in 35 games at 6 minutes a night and Nick Shore averaged nine minutes centering these two non entities as the Jets essentially rolled three lines most nights. Other than Morrissey, Kulikov and Pionk, they were forced to play guys like bitetto, Beaulieu, Sbisa Demelo and Dahlstrom on a nightly basis on the back end. Tucker Poolman is a decent prospect on the back end but didnt do much and needs to up his game. Same with Sami Niku.


FREE AGENTS Late season addition Eakin will move on, the 4th line (shore, Bourque and Shaw) are almost certain to follow him out of town. Kulikov needs to be retained if possible but the rest of the blueline, Sbisa, Beaulieu, Bitetto and Demelo will be allowed to go elsewhere. Broissot was okay as the backup tender but likely wont return.


OFFSEASON QUESTION MARKS Here it is in a nutshell, the Jets have as much top end talent as any team around, Hellboy, Scheifele, Laine, connor, Wheeler, Pionk, Morrissey, Ehlers are all top shelf, Copp and a few others are solid role players but the truth is the bottom three on defense and the bottom six among the frowards were awful, among the worst in the game last year. They need to find out who among guys like Niku, Appleton, Poolman, Rosplovic, Vesalainen, Gustafsson, Luoto, Heinola and Stanley can play. I love, not like but LOVE the nearly ready talent the Jets have in the pipeline, i respect the fact that they made a decision as an organization not to rush them this year but to play half a dozen guys or more nightly who werent really NHL caliber players instead of forcing these guys to take the next step prematurely. If the Jets strike gold with Heinola and Niku next year the defense goes from being woefully thin to a strength and there are plenty of forward options who will improve the depth of this team. A lot of times a team slips to the middle of the pack they keep slipping, i like the Jets chances going forward a lot better than most such clubs. Especially if by some chance they nab the first pick in the draft.

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