Spinorama Hockey

Waiting in line at the Riverside Roxy sipping espresso…Jets vs Canadiens round 2 preview…

Danault on Scheifele match up will be key

So, I am 20 something years old and sitting with my buddies outside the Riverside Roxy, waiting to get into the greatest party in town. Little did I know that the place is so packed we are not getting in until the end of the night. We are bored and definitely missing out on all the fun but at least we will be well rested when we get in…sound familiar? Finally the clock strikes midnight and the big mean looking dudes at the front doors let us in. The patrons are dancing up a storm, drinking their faces off and having the time of their life. So what do we do? Time to catch up? It’s late and we are tired but we just need a little time to get things going. We start drinking! Drink after drink but can’t seem to rev up to the same intensity as the crowd. As usual we are going to end up at my mom’s house drinking espresso at 3 in the morning, exhausted and wondering what could have been. Why do I bring this up? The NHL playoffs are revving up and the Winnipeg Jets are waiting patiently and sipping espresso in what we call the NHL playoffs line up. Of course this is actually a reward from dispatching the McDavid’s and his band of merry men before the nightclub had even barely opened, but it is what it is.

Okay enough about my depressing young adulthood. The point is, while the Jets have been getting healthy and well rested for the next round, the Habs are in full playoff grab a partner dance mode. If there is anything wrong with dispatching a team quicker than you can smoke a Glen Sather cigar this would be it. Don’t get me wrong. You can’t wait to beat a team but while one team is resting. The other team is fighting for their playoff lives, this can cause problems, especially early in the series. It’s the same theory at the end of the season as the Habs were playing meaningful games down the stretch just to get into the playoffs. You are generally somewhat seasoned for the first round, simply because you are used to it. Hey I’ll be the first one to say, I’m not complaining. You can argue rest is a good thing especially in the long run. If are sneaky Jets some how manage to win this round and smoulder the tired Canadiens du Montreal, they will need all their energy for the winner of the Avs & Knights series. But first things first.

115 Bannatyne the site of the Riverside Roxy in the 1990s

A few tequila shots and perhaps a pile of 25 cent draft can get things moving but may take a game or two. The biggest challenge the Jets will have in this playoff year so far stands in front of them. Can the team rival the intensity of the Habs especially early in the series? Can coach Paul Maurice have his dance team…agghh…stop it…hockey players ready to match the intensity of a hungry opponent. Everyone gets hungry after some drinks but the Jets need to walk into their own barn, be ready, sharp and provide no mercy and shut down a very hungry Habs team or before you know it they will be down a game before the dance has even started.

Here is what we see as the keys to the series:

Hellebuyck vs Price

Hellebuyck vs Price

Of course this is number one. Goaltending always is. If anyone can intimidate a roster it is the ever so cool, olympic champion coming off a game 7 flawless performance win, Carey Price. Often ridiculed for his big contract but there is no better time to prove his value. Meanwhile talking about calmness, isn’t Connor Hellebuyck the mirror and younger version of this Carey Price. It also doesn’t hurt that his initials are carved into the Canadiens logo. Nontheless the Habs are going to take a million shots on Helle and the Jets as per usual will not shoot on Price unless it’s the perfect shot. Oddly this may work in the Jets favour as both goalies play better with plenty of work. I would also be remiss not to mention that Hellebuyck was not nominated for the Vezina trophy. Are you kidding me? Who is voting on this thing? Did you look at who shoots on him in this division? It’s like he’s playing in the Quebec Major Junior League (this is kind of funny if you think about it). Another chip on the shoulder of a self motivated man never hurts a team’s destiny.

Habs D vs Jets D

If this series gets physical, we like the Habs D. Big strong and smart. These adjectives also spell slow. Weber, Chiarot, Edmundson & Petry do provide a degree of difficulty but not overwhelming. We also like Romanov but he did not play in round one and thought he played well against the Jets in the past. The Jets up tempo game is the key to neutralizing the effectiveness of the Habs D who at times has looked awful this year. But the Habs big four have been around and can be extremely difficult to play against. The smaller fast skating D men of the Jets will need to be on their toes against the slippery, smaller Habs forwards. Throw in a Logan Stanley hit and a Tucker Poolman rush and this should counter balance that attack. Coach Ducharme at some point in round one realized or maybe got lucky that it may be a good idea to play his younger faster forwards that can fling a puck into a net. This in turn gave the Leafs D all kinds of fits. Mainly they couldn’t handle the different variety of lines that the Habs could send out. The Jets D lucked out in the first round mainly due to the stubbornness of coach Tippett deciding after game one to put McDavid and Draisaitl on the same line. Even though they clearly outplayed the Jets after the first 60 minutes of the series when they were apart, and somehow lost (see the guy with the initials in the Canadiens crest). This will not happen with Montreal’s forward group. Mainly because no one including the Habs organization knows who their best forwards are. So a balanced attack is coming. In particular we see Forbort – Pionk pairing as key to this series on the Jets side.

Veterans vs Veterans

As we said in our first round preview of the Jets vs Oilers the Jets core has been there before. Experience on how to win is learned by losing normally or more importantly winning. Jets have lost and have gained valuable experience. Plus they added the likes of Trevor Lewis and Nate Thompson who have both won in the past. Meanwhile Marc Bergevin knew what he was doing picking up Corey Perry, Joel Edmundson, Tyler Toffoli and Eric Staal as true playoff guys. Guys that have won and have been through the wars. The Habs have a nice mix with the young guns of Suzuki, Kotkaniemi & Caufield. This match up heavily favours the Jets as their bottom 6 are tops in the division. We believe the Habs have to win this match up in order to win this series.

Special Teams

The Jets power play woke up in the Oiler series but let’s face it. If you want to beat Carey Price this is where you do it. The series can can hang in the balance in this category. The Habs power play has struggled and will need to get going against this very good (especially the last half of the season) Winnipeg Jets penalty killing unit. In particular PP1 for the Jets need to be able to score in this series. 5 on 5 Carey Price will be difficult to beat. Not impossible just difficult.

Rested vs Not Rested

If you are going to dispatch a team in 4 games, you should be well rested and ready to play. You must take advantage of this. If not what’s the point of sitting back and watching the other two teams you are waiting to play against kill each other. Unlike the “late to the party” argument in my opening paragraph, if the Jets want to win the series this has to be one of the reasons. Montreal will end up playing 12 games in 19 days following the first four games of this series. The Jets should be rested, healthy and practiced. I realize that Pierre Luc Dubois won’t be playing against the Leafs to pad his stats so he and his teammates will need to take advantage of a worn out Habs team.

So there it is. The Riverside Roxy is happening. The Habs are getting ready for the drunk tank and dancing up a storm. The Jets are sober and in a serious position to inflict damage to this already beat up Habs line up. So here is some advice for our home town Winnipeg Jets. Great teams overcome great circumstances, eye of the tiger, never give up, blah, blah, blah…How about go out and play your game. Don’t over think this series. You are the better team. You have nothing to lose. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You will be drinking espresso at 3 in the morning with my mom.

Jets in 6

Avs in 7

Bruins in 7

Tampa in 6

Have any comments. @spinohockey or @frankzappia1

Law of Averages…Are the Oilers of the 80s back? Jets vs Oilers Playoff Preview…

The Law of Averages: The more time you take action, the more times you are rejected, the more times you find success.

Where is the Glen Sather cigar, the John Muckler scientific dissection of a roster, the timely goal of a Glen Anderson, the leadership of a Mark Messier or who can forget the impossible Grant Fuhr save in the glory days of the 80s Oilers. The Wayne Gretzky era (arguably the best player ever) produced four Stanley Cups for Edmonton. A fifth for the Messier lead Oil, while Wayner was hanging on Sunset Boulevard and building rinks in southern California. For today’s standards, I knew the Oilers were going to create problems for the rest of the NHL when they brought in Ken Holland and Dave Tippett. Some minor tweaking and some stabilization in the organization will work wonders when you have the best player in the world on your roster. Outscore teams and learn how to play a little defence combined with some timely goaltending is the formula. Sound familiar Charlie Huddy? Don’t believe me? See the Lemieux Penguins of the 1980s or for that matter the still lead Crosby Penguins of the 2000s who all eventually went on to win the Stanley Cup. This is what usually happens when by shear luck you somehow draft the best player of his era on your roster every twenty years. For the record that’s twice for the Oilers (though Gretzky wasn’t drafted by them) and twice for the Penguins. Just to be clear, I’m not saying the Oilers are winning the cup this year but history does tell us that this type of player usually finds a way to hoist Lord Stanley’s grail, eventually. So my long winded opening begs the question. When does the “Law of Averages” kicks in? A stretch maybe but let’s look at some key factors for playoff success.

Helleybuyck vs Smith: Goaltending is always the number one item required to win the Stanley Cup. How is this even a question? The reigning Vezina trophy winner against a 39 year goaltender in Mike Smith that the Oilers didn’t even want at the beginning of the year. For the record Smith has clearly outplayed Connor Hellebuyck in the season series, which could mean that this will not last. Law of averages you say? Smith has clearly exceeded expectations. Connor 2 or some might say Connor 1 now needs to do his part. He was not good last year against the Flames and let in some very weak goals in crucial points in the Blues march on to win the cup in 2019.

McDavid and the Jets: Clearly McDavid must be stopped. But can he be? In the 1980s people used to say at playoff time Messier would step up because of all the attention on Wayne. Would never win without their true leader. Maybe, but Wayne was always the real threat. There was no way to stop him it was just a matter of trying to contain him. I know we have heard this before. Our take is this is done in three major ways. One: he must be slowed up in the neutral zone. Be it being physical, agitating and clearly annoying to play against. You need to play dirty and cheap against the best player in the world to have a shot. Two: Obviously stay out of the penalty box. No explanation required. Three: This is the most important and that is the other Connor. Hellebuyck has to be unreal and make the impossible save (See M. A. Fleury in 2018 vs the Jets).

Coaching Match Up: They always say players win games not coaches. “Hogwash” as Cornel Potter used to say in some great MASH episodes. See Jacque Lemaire and the New Jersey Devils of the past. You still need the players but in game adjustments are crucial to winning. We feel Paul Maurice will need to improve this in his game. We know he has the pulse of the team and he seems to get them ready to play but in game adjustments are the difference between winning and losing at the top levels of sports. No different on what differentiates top athletes. The slightest of edges can make the difference. Besides Dave Tippett is 34 and 44 in playoff appearances to Paul Maurice’s 37 and 47. No real edge here in past playoff experience so we feel this may be a crucial area that many previews are not touching on.

Underdog/Favourite Mentality: The Oilers of the 80s never seemed to have this problem. A confident bunch that grew together and always played well as the favourite aside from the odd situation (See the Steve Smith goal against vs the Flames in 1986). The best thing about clearly being the underdog is you play without pressure. This week I heard Blake Wheeler refer to this on the regular season expectations and how no one expected them to make the playoffs. Not sure about that but the chip has been squarely put on the shoulder of the captain. Expectations are a huge pressure cooker. This clearly is on the side of the Jets. Also keep in mind the core of the Jets have been to the conference finals so should be ready for the playoff crunch. The McDavid’s are clearly being picked by the majority of the media and in my opinion this is never a good thing.

Roster Depth: Playoff depth is important. Center depth mainly. Top 6 and bottom 6 all in favour of the Jets. But you need to capitalize on this. Scheifele, Stastny, Dubois, Lowry, Copp, Thompson, the many centers that the Jets can throw out there need not only to produce offensively but shut down the McDavid and Draisaitl combo. Bottom 6 production has been mostly there all season and needs to be there in the playoffs. We really like this match up. If McDavid outplays whoever he faces which is likely, this is the area the Jets need to capitalize on. Third and fourth line goals are always key in the playoffs but especially in this series. We actually really like the additions of Thompson and Lewis (see previous trade deadline columns that we make these suggestions). As the Oilers seem to have the edge on defence I’m not sure it’s that one sided. Was this the case at the beginning of the season? I think the Oilers defence is a tad overrated. This is more about Tippet’s team defensive strategy than individual greatness.

History NHL/WHA: This one means the least but I thought it was important to note. The Jets have never beaten the Oilers in the playoffs. At least not in the NHL. Don’t forget that the WHA Jets defeated the young Gretzky lead Oilers to capture the AVCO cup in 1979. But I digress. This year the Jets are 2 and 5 against the Oil. The only note I have here is how long can you keep losing to the same team? Don’t the odds eventually turn in your favour? See the definition at the top of the page.

So who are we picking? It seems we pick the Jets every year in this space. Always crushed by the pressure of expectation. I’m of course taking about writing this column. Nonetheless we feel there is no better time for the current Jets roster to pull that cigar out of that smug Glen Sather’s mouth and stomp out the reminiscing of bad Oilers/Jets memories. The heritage game was not enough. Somehow maybe Dale Hawerchuk is overlooking this series. The Jets should not win this series especially how they have been playing down the stretch. The Oilers are better defensively and of course have McDavid and Draisaitl. This one was a tough one. The law of averages tells me that the Jets need to even up. Two wins in seven games against the goalie Smith lead Oilers team doesn’t make a lot of sense. Besides the law of averages also tells us that by picking the Jets every year in this column, we should be right one of these times. Why stop now? Jets in 7

For comments @spinohockey or @frankzappia1

NHL first round Playoff Picks:

Florida over TB in 6

Car over Nsh in 5

Pit over NYI in 7

Bos over Wash in 6

Col over STL in 7

Vegas over Min in 5

Tor over Mtl in 5

Jets over Oilers in 7

@Mass_Insight Playoff Picks

TB over Fla in 7

Car over Nsh in 6

Pit over NYI in 7

Bos over Wash in 6

Col over STL in in 6

Vegas over Min in 5

Tor over MTL in 6

Edm over Wpg in 6

What is going on in Jetsville?

As Winnipeg Jets nation is feeling alone in this already lonely pandemic world, we felt necessary to provide hope and some wishful thinking in this troubled world of Jetsville. Is this the same team that was battling for first place only weeks ago? Let’s first start with some history and will follow up with key concerns and talking points on this current Jets roster and management team. With six games left before the playoffs time is of the essence.

Key Points:

  • The Patrick Laine trade: After his opening 2 goals and 1 assist red hot start, the powers at be in Jetsville felt this was a good time to trade their star especially with the much talented Pierre Luc Dubois becoming available. But as we said at the time, the downside to this move is your top Right Winger is now Blake Wheeler followed by Mason Appleton and of course potentially losing your most prolific goal scorer. Let’s not forget the other center/right winger to go in that trade was Jack Roslovic. I would argue you lost goals in this trade for center depth. Here is the thing though. The most powerful offensive team in the North Division became less offensive than the powerful Leafs or Oilers offence after this deal. Result is the Jets can’t trade offence with these teams like they use to do. No track race in these match ups anymore. Please don’t tell me Dubois is offensive. He is a good solid two-way center and needs to play that way. That’s what his potential is.
  • Dubois expectations: Let me first point out that we like this player. He’s 22 big and strong and a center. Hard to come by in this league. In fairness he has had a tough start between the Torts benching and the quarantining time after the trade. But let’s be clear, eventually these become excuses. He needs to play big, strong and mean. The coach needs to get this through to him for him to have any impact on this team. Everyone is saying wait for playoffs. Maybe, but he really needs to show a mean streak and help set the tone in games. That’s why the Jets wanted him and traded for him.
  • Center Depth: Presumably the Jets are now deeper at center but we will never know. Head coach Paul Maurice has not gone to the four headed monster of Scheifele, Stastny, Dubois and Lowry. Thompson has been good but having him on Lowry’s wing works for me or have him take a seat to see what this looks like. Thompson is useful and can be thrown out for the odd draw on any line when things aren’t working. Teams do it all the time. Take the draw and race to the bench for the change. Also worth mentioning is that Paul Stastny needs to play center. He is clearly their smartest center and is a waste of his true talents on the wing. Would have been interesting to see how he would have played between Laine and Ehlers this season and what it would have done for the team. But I digress.
  • Youthful Integration: As long as I can remember Stanley Cup Championship teams always have this mix of youthful players filled with vinegar. The likes of Vesalainen, Harkins, Gustafsson, Stanley and Heinola with the exception of Stanley have barely played. Why not insert these guys. It seems like when any of these players seem to play well in a game or two, they are quickly pulled out of the line up in place of a veteran. Why not work them in while resting guys? I realize there are few spots available but would have loved to see more integration of some of these players throughout the year. Too late now.
  • General Manager: Overall we like what Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has done with building the current roster. But how has he done this year? First off we are going to assume a few things. Like we wrote in are preview column earlier this year, we new that there would be an offensive explosion on this roster. No one in the North division plays defence particularly well. I would assume that this team was built to out score teams (remember the Chevy tongue and cheek comment before the season on how he expects Patrik Laine to have a great year). In saying this there was no point to rush on picking up a much needed defenceman until the trade deadline. Big error in not picking one up though. Jordie Benn is good for depth but he needed a defenceman that can log minutes and more importantly play tough playoff minutes. On the forward side you traded 2 right wingers (see above) and 40 goals in the central which I have to think would have equated to much more than that in the North for 1 center and his 18 goals. Maybe he thought the young guys would pick up the slack? I guess they would have to play in order to see if that was the right move.
  • Coaching: We have said this numerous times. We are fans of coach Paul Maurice. In fact when he eventually moves on (which may be never) he should be offered a spot in the organization. He is a great hockey man and in my opinion you can never have enough of these in your organization. As the second longest tenured coach it’s time to move on. There were rumours that Jon Cooper was going to get fired in Tampa before they won the cup for pete sake. This is the way it works for coaches in the NHL. This should be noted in the last point but we are not understanding the loyalty to coach Maurice. Its admirable but foolish. Coach is a fixer and came in when he was needed but firing the coach would most likely tweak the make up of the core of this group with which I believe is required.
  • The Core: Where there is smoke there is fire. We know Wheeler and Scheifele head the group. Morrissey is in there and I would venture to included Copp and Lowry. But looking into the past (all not confirmed of course). A fight with Buyfuglien, closed door meetings, Hendericks brought in a second time to help out, Laine and Roslovic wanting out and the insistence of 26 and 55 needing to play together. I know we have all heard the stories but what is going on this year? Something doesn’t look right in Jetsville and here is our latest questions to the core group. Wheeler has a concussion and is told by the coach to sit out for the 5 game road trip. After the Tkachuk elbow Wheeler played and practiced the next day? Strange. Did something happen at practice? Probably just precautionary but captain Blake does have a tendency to go off and show his frustrations. Next Maurice which he basically never does benches his star center Mark Scheifele? You know, the one that will have his statue built right beside the Hawerchuk one in True North Square? Listen, I saw the extra long shift in question while it was happening and wondered myself why 55 wasn’t going off. Typically this is not a mistake that gets a star player benched unless your name is John Tortorella and especially by Maurice. Scheifele doesn’t strike me to have much attitude but maybe he does and maybe the coach decided it may be a good time to put him in his place. This move is the most staggering in recent memory. It is something that makes me feel there is a bigger problem at work.
  • Top 6 vs Bottom 6: Remember how the bottom six was the bone of contention with many. I would argue that this year the bottom six (and Nik Ehlers) in some strange way is carrying the top six. This is a tough point to argue but it may be better dealt with my saying the top six has been disappointing and the bottom six has at the very minimum been playing up to expectations or better.

Challenges Moving Forward:

  • Goaltending: Look, no one believes in Connor Hellebuyck more than we do. He is a Vezina trophy winner and a runner up but so was Pekka Rinne. Why am I mentioning this? Helle (love his confidence) but he will need to prove to this writer at least that he can do it in the playoffs. This is not an attack on Helle just the facts. The last three playoff series he has played in (if you count the Flames one last year) he has not been good. Sure I know he has one the Vezina in between but look at what I’m seeing. He got outplayed by Marc Andre Fleury in 2018 but more importantly he couldn’t make the timely crazy saves he needed in that series. For this writer he gets a pass on that one. Fleury was out of this world. In 2019, he let in some awful goals to the eventual Stanley Cup champions the St Louis Blues at the worst times (especially in the dying moments of a game or period). I’m not being a homer. Had he played well in that series the Jets would have won it and who knows what would have happened after that. I don’t want to even talk about the pre playoff series with the Flames in 2020. Even with Laine and Scheifele out of the line up due to injury it was all the more reason to step up. He was average at best. Like any team in the NHL, if Helle doesn’t step up this year and play over his head when it counts the Jets will be on the golf course in no time this spring.
  • Going into the playoffs: If things go well, the Winnipeg Jets will get out of their current funk and start winning some games going into the playoffs. Maybe the losing streak is just in time but losing team confidence never helps. On the wishful thinking side, the Jets need to infuse some young vinegar, get some goaltending and march into the playoffs on a mini roll. Besides how many times can you lose to the same team? Doesn’t the law of averages state that if in fact they do play the Oilers, the Jets should win at least 4 of the next 7 games? Wishful thinking you say? We are in a pandemic. What else is there?

Send your comments to @spinohockey or @frankzappia1

A New Beginning…Winnipeg Jets go Canadian Eh…



With the end of 2020 comes a new beginning.  Brace yourself…The Winnipeg Jets will no longer be playing against defensive juggernauts in Dallas, Colorado or St Louis?  Won’t even mention those annoying Predators.  Wait…one more thing…all Canadian teams will be moving into one division?  Maybe 2020 isn’t as bad as I thought…

During Kevin Cheveldayoff’s recent press conference, he notably mentions that Patrik Laine should have his best season ever.  Makes sense to us plus what else is Chevy supposed to say here? No one in the “WeTheNorth” division knows how to defend.  Maybe we should take a closer look at the newly created Canadian division. Seriously? The Jets would have the best goals against of any team. There you go.  Defensive wows solved.  Career offensive years for the offence.  Let’s take a quick look:

Team Leaders in Goals Against:

Central Division (League Rank) & Total Goals Against:                      

  1. Dallas (2)                              177                  

2. Colorado (5)                         191                  

3. St Louis (6)                           193                                          

In New Canadian Division

  1. Winnipeg (12)                      203

2. Calgary (16)                         215

3. Edmonton (17)                    217

4. Vancouver (19)                    217

5. Montreal (23)                      221

6. Toronto (27)                         227

7. Ottawa (31)                         243                                          

WINNIPEG JETS PREVIEW                                          

The Winnipeg Jets are now two seasons removed from their long playoff run, which took them to the Western Conference Final. The expectations were high, but after losing some key pieces since then and after back-to-back early playoff exits, it has left most fans wondering where this team is headed and what they’re capable of.

The all Canadian division is a blessing in disguise.  Not only are we going to see more Habs, Leafs and McDavid but the Jets may be the team to beat in this division?

Okay, I’ll calm down.  The Jets did lose to the Calgary Flames in the first round last season, but I would attribute that to a combination of two of their top players going down very early during the start of the series.  I know, more team excuses.  Trust me I don’t want to hear them either. 

All we are saying is under the current set up, get to the final four and anything can happen.  Here is our take on the key factors that the Winnipeg Jets will need to contend with.

Connor Hellebuyck 

Just like most every other team in the NHL, the Jets success starts and ends with goaltending. Hellebuyck needs to be the difference-maker as he was last year.  We put an asterisk beside his name in the playoffs.  To be fair we feel he has the ability to be that playoff goalie.  Time will tell.

The Patrik Laine Situation

Nothing more annoying than this.  We expect a career year if they don’t trade him.  But this would be foolish as the new Canadian division could vault him to Rocket Richard trophy territory.  Will be interesting to see how the newly acquired Paul Stastny fits back in this line up.  As much as I would like to see him on Mark Scheifele’s wing, Stastny is a left shot and may work better for one of the leagues most terrifying shooters.

Josh Morrissey

Last season was a disappointing one for Josh Morrissey. Losing Jacob Trouba and not having a suitable partner to play with on the top pair didn’t help. The result was the Jets best defenceman struggled and the sudden lack of depth on the right side hurt the team.  Whether Morrissey rebounds with Dylan DeMelo as his full-time partner or he gets someone via trade (most likely a playoff deadline trade), he needs to play like their top defenceman.  The new division should help this.  Also wouldn’t hurt if Paul Maurice would throw him a bone once in a while on the top powerplay unit.

Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp

Is the team better off having Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp on the same line or having them separated an playing on the 3rd and 4th lines?  I’ve always been a same line kind of guy.  Nonetheless if together Paul Maurice needs to give them a consistant winger to play with.  Be it Appleton, Roslovic (if he isn’t traded), Perreault or Harkins just keep it the same.  These guys used to set the league on fire with possession.  Jets need to get back there to make good use out of their bottom 6.

Rookie/Young/New Player Impact

The position where the team needs their rookies to really step up is on defence. With the recent notable departures, the opportunity is there for the taking for rookies Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola to step right in the lineup.  Derek Forbort could be a sleeper pick up but we feel the player that needs to step up the most is Sami Niku.  He is capable physically but is he capable mentally.  It’s important to note this year he was one of the few players to stick in Winnipeg during the pandemic.  In saying all this, Maurice needs to play him to truly see what impact he can make if any.  Jansen Harkins is worth mentioning because we know Maurice likes him as I noted a few years ago in training camp. I believe Harkins will be a key cog for the Jets to help improve the bottom six. He has the ability to be a difference-maker and provide secondary scoring up front, especially when things tighten up in the playoffs. He can also play center and learn from newly acquired Nate Thompson.

Offensive Explosion

Based on the fact that no one in the division can play defence especially everyone’s pre-season number one pick the Maple Leafs (barf here).  You have to expect that the Jets players should see a ballooning at pandemic proportions around their waistline of offensive stats (pro-rated of course).  Example:  The amazing Erik Karlsson leaves the defenceless confines of the Senators and the Atlantic division (Eastern Conference) to the San Jose Sharks on the trap yeilding West side and his points per game drops from 0.93 to 0.77.  Should be interesting to see if the reverse of this happens to the list of Jets talented forwards and seemingly smaller offensive defencemen.

Paul Maurice

Entering his 7th full season as the Jets Head Coach, you’ve got to think this is the last kick at the can for Paul Maurice. For PoMo to have lasted this long, likely due to the love-in the team brass have for him.  And why not?  He is a smart hockey man and has really helped organize the team and franchise.  Nontheless coaches are hired to be fired.  He has been criticized for the handling of his line combinations, ice time distribution and overplaying bottom six veterans. While you can argue he’s been dealt a tough hand lately, he will still need to find away to dust off the excuses and lead the Jets the promised land.

So are the Winnipeg Jets problems solved by the Canadian division?  Likely not.  No team is sitting idle.  But no more Stars, Avalanche or Blues at least until the playoff final four.  2020 was a brutal year for many and sad on so many fronts.  But at least in NHL terms for the Winnipeg Jets, the Canadian Division is a new beginning.


NHL 2020-21 Season – What you need to know…

It’s been a while and we are glad to be back (with the exception of our overly active twitter account). We thought we should start off with an important information column. Considering the NHL is planning to put on a 56 game season with limited or no fans at the games during a world pandemic, we felt that we should recap all the relevant information a real hockey fan like yourself would require. Key dates including playoff format, the new division alignments noted with the much anticipated “Canadian Division”, roster, waiver, salary cap, covid 19 information and of course the perhaps forgotten Expansion Draft that will hover over the season like an eagle watching it’s prey).


Dec. 31: Training camps open for seven teams that did not participate in the Return to Play Plan for the 2019-20 season (Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks).

Jan. 3, 2021: Training camps open for the remaining 24 NHL teams. Note: No Preseason games will be played. Teams can invite up to 36 skaters and unlimited amount of goalies.

Jan. 13: Regular season begins. Teams will play a 56 intradivional game condschedule. Each of the eight teams in the East, Central and West divisions will play every other team in its division eight times, and each team in the North Division (seven teams based in Canada) will play every other team in its division nine or 10 times.

April 12: NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET).

May 8: End of regular season.

May 11*: Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs. The first two rounds will be intradivisional, with the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and the second-place team facing the third-place team in the first round. The four teams that advance from the second round to the Semifinal Round will be seeded by their points total in the regular season (No. 1 vs. No. 4; No. 2 vs. No. 3).

July 9*: Last possible day of Stanley Cup Final.

July 17: Deadline for teams to submit protected lists for 2021 NHL Expansion Draft (5 p.m. ET).

July 21: 2021 NHL Expansion Draft (8 p.m. ET) for the Seattle Kraken.

July 23: First round of 2021 NHL Draft.

July 24: Rounds 2-7 of 2021 NHL Draft.

July 28: Restricted free agent/unrestricted free agent signing period begins (12 p.m. ET).

* — subject to change



During the regular season, the NHL roster limit will remain 23 players with a salary cap of $81.5 million. Each team will also have a taxi squad of 4-6 players that can practice and travel with the players on the NHL roster. Any team not carrying three goalies on its NHL roster must have at least one goalie on its taxi squad.

To be eligible to play in an NHL game, a player on the taxi squad must be recalled to the active roster by 5 p.m. ET on the date of the game. Goalies can be recalled after 5 p.m. ET if fewer than two goalies on the team’s NHL roster are available to play.

Players required to clear waivers to be assigned to the American Hockey League also require waivers to be assigned to the taxi squad. Players assigned to the taxi squad will receive the salary they’d receive playing in the AHL and the impact on the team’s salary cap will be the same as if the player is in the AHL.


Players, coaches and staff will be tested daily throughout training camp and the first four weeks of the regular season. The NHL and NHLPA will reevaluate after that, consulting with medical personnel and infectious disease specialist and the data on positive tests, to determine if testing should shift to every other day.

During training camp, the NHL will announce League-wide results of testing without naming individuals with a confirmed positive test. During the regular season, the names of players with confirmed positive tests will be made public.

Those with a confirmed positive test will follow isolation guidelines consistent with local public health regulations. Players must also be cleared by a cardiologist and team physician before returning to play.

Teammates identified as a close contact to a player with a confirmed positive test won’t be required to quarantine if they test negative and remain asymptomatic.


While in their home cities, players, coaches and staff should stay home when possible and not engage in unnecessary interactions with non-family members. Players, coaches and staff should diligently wear face coverings and following social distancing guidelines inside and outside team facilities.

Coaches are required to wear a face covering at all times, including on the bench, except when engaging in physical exertion on the ice and when eating and/or drinking.

All teams will travel on charter flights with assigned seats on planes and buses. While on the road, players, coaches and staff will be limited to the designated team hotel for that city, the game arena and practice rink. They cannot patronize restaurants, bars or shops outside those at the designated hotel.

Players, coaches and staff will not be permitted to use the hotel gym, have guests in their hotel rooms or have their rooms serviced by housekeeping during their visit.

Visiting teams cannot practice in other facilities owned or operated by third parties. Practices will not be open to the public.


Seattle was granted an expansion franchise by the NHL on Dec. 4, 2018 and will begin play in 2021-22. The Seattle Kraken will be in the Pacific Division with the Arizona Coyotes moving to the Central Division.

The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft will be under the same rules for Seattle as the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017. Seattle will select one player from each team excluding the Golden Knights for a total of 30 (14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies) not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules.

Seattle must choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 regular season and those with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100 percent of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap. Seattle cannot buy out players chosen in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

Current NHL teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie, under the following conditions.

* All players with no movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.

* All first- and second-year NHL players, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward protection limits.

In addition, all NHL teams must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the draft:

* One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a team’s player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection.

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NHL Final Eight Preview

We promise we will try to get some of these right. Our final 8 thoughts below…


Personally, I have been expecting that this older Stars roster to falter but they keep ticking away. Their President calls out their best players. Tick on. They lose their coach, Rick Bowness in. Tick on. Arguably left with the leagues best goalie this will be a tough bunch to beat. I’ve been converted but can they beat the high flying, very deep Colorado team? Is it Nate McKinnon’s time? He has to end his career with a Stanley Cup (I think). Two weeks ago I would easily have picked the Avs. Now it comes with great difficulty but I will stay with it. AVS in 7


No series is easy to pick. Vegas is big, strong, fast & deep. Peter DeBoer has been there before. This team plays with a confidence that is hard to bet against. Not to mention we agree with Coach that Robert Lehner is on a different level. Is there any better goalie in the league? If there was one it would be the crazy play of Jacob Markstrom. Seems like a goal is never easy to get by this guy. Playing on an expiring contract, he sure is proving his worth. A young strong, fast group of forwards and a lot of heart throughout this line up and the underrated (maybe) outstanding coaching of Travis Green. We are still on the bandwagon…Canucks in 7


The Bruins look unstoppable. No Pasta and no Rask? No problem. Bruce Cassidy is working his magic. Dispatching a very strong and very well coached Hurricanes team in 5 was surprising to say the least. Enough is enough. Can they beat the mighty Tampa team that has always faltered in playoff’s past? Unfortunately a team needs to lose in order to win (could say the same thing about the Bruins). I just think that the Lightning have been around too long at the top of the league to not get to the final. Maybe in pandemic/bubble conditions is what the Lightning need to play with the utmost focus and get over this hump. This has to be the year. Tampa in 6


Is there a better feel good story than the Islanders getting to the final eight teams? Their best player/center leaves for the hated/filthy rich Maple Leafs. Arguably the leagues best goalie doesn’t sign a contract and moves on. Arena problems? No problem. Let’s go out and get the leagues best coach, off of a Stanley Cup championship and pick up a recycled number 1 goalie. Naturally the formula to advance far into these playoffs. The Flyers are well coached (a theme in these last group of 8 teams), tons of depth, can play any style of game and dispatched a Carey Price team that were on a tidal wave. I thought the Islanders would lose the last round. There is this old New Jersey Devils thing going in on the Island and sweet Lou knows how to win playoff games. Islanders in 6

@frankzappia1 @spinohocky for your comments