3 Questions with Arctic Ice Hockey
<strong>And the Lord said "Get to know thy divisional foe as best thou canst," and we did, and it was good.</strong> Many thanks to Tim Bonnar at our SB Nation sister site Arctic Ice Hockey for his time in providing these responses earlier this week — give him a #hockeyfollow at <a href="h
1. Blake Wheeler isn't a known pugilist, but has two fighting majors already this season. What gives?
Blake Wheeler really seemed to step forward as a leader towards the end of last year. As a result, he was selected to wear an "A" this year as well. The new responsibilities that come with this leadership role seemingly have gone to his head and Jets fans are all for it, although they'd rather him stay in the game and out of the penalty box.
It is also worth noting that Wheeler's listed weight jumped twenty pounds this offseason. He has always been tall, but he was previously listed at 6'5, 205 pounds. He is now listed at 225 pounds, so perhaps he isn't playing too big for his britches. Perhaps his britches are legitimately bigger.
October 9, 2014 vs. Shane Doan
October 12, 2014 vs. Robyn Regehr
2. As of this past Monday, the Jets have allowed the second most goals in the Western Conference so far this season. It's early, but is Ondrej Pavelec just rusty? Or are there broader defensive lapses in the system?
After three games it is actually pretty hard to blame Ondrej Pavelec. His early numbers are well above his career average and Jets fans would be overjoyed if he could sustain them. Backups goalie Michael Hutchinson had a rough go in his first game, allowing 3 goals on 13 shots, but Pavelec has been fine.
Goals against will be a stat that every Jets fans watches this year. Both the coach and the general manager have spoken ad nauseam about reducing goals against as the big priority for this year, but they entered the season with the same starting goalie and top eight defenders as last year's squad. Something has to give somewhere for things to improve.
3. Evander Kane seemed to struggle a bit last year, and it looked at points like he might have become trade bait. We know he won't be in the lineup Friday due to his injury, but what are Jets fans' and the team's expectations of Kane to rebound this season, in which he'll earn $6 millionfor the first time in his career?
Evander Kane definitely struggled, but the struggles were as much about injury as anything. Well, injuries and Olli Jokinen. It was readily apparent early in Olli Jokinen's tenure with the Winnipeg Jets that he wasn't a good fit for Evander Kane. The duo had no chemistry and the things that Joker does well (shoot) did not mesh with Kane. Kane puts a lot of pucks on net. Rebounds and tip ins are there to be had. Joker never drives the net. Kane can finish, Joker can't pass. Kane is fast, Joker is not. They were a horrible fit.
Jets fans are hoping the issues at centre disappear this year. Mark Scheifele has the speed to keep up with Kaner. He also attacks the net for rebounds and tip-ins, and if things don't work out with Scheifele, Matthieu Perreault does a lot of the same things. There is a load of hope with Kaner this year, just need to get him healthy and back on the ice. Hoping that happens soon.
Folks, be sure to check out our friends at Arctic Ice Hockey for more coverage of the division rival Winnipeg Jets.