How do you feel about the Jets firing Claude Noel and replacing him with Paul Maurice? What were the biggest issues and what do you expect now that a change has been made?
The mood around Winnipeg with regards to the coaching change seems to be split. There are factions who believe the writing had been on Noel's wall for quite some time now. Others feel he was a good coach who was let down by his players.
I am of the former group.
Noel seemed exasperated and defeated in his recent post-game conferences and it was an attitude that was quickly rubbing off on his players in all the wrong ways. Worse yet, he never seemed to have the answer to what needed to be changed in order to improve and I believe this eventually sealed his fate. That and the fact his puck entry tactics were severely flawed for the talent he had. Dump-and-chase is dead, people.
With Paul Maurice, not only is the team inheriting a leader with a wealth of coaching knowledge, but in previous stops in Carolina and Toronto, Maurice taught and succeeded with teams sharing a similar mold to Winnipeg's.
We're hopeful this is the turning of the guard.
Now that the Jets have been back in Winnipeg for a little while, how's the general feeling among fans? Is their rough season a cause for great concern?
Again, this is a topic that has created a rift in fan methodologies.
There are those who feel that this team should be further along than their current results reflect and have questioned waiver claims by the General Manager, personnel moves by the coaching staff and the absence of a starting goaltender that can stop the puck.
Then there are those who have taken a more patient approach, believing that the team is in a strong position moving forward after stockpiling their prospect pool in the past three drafts.
The cause for concern in Winnipeg is whether this current crop of prospects can lead the team to a playoff berth in the next three years. Clearly this city will never be a hot spot for free agents, nor can TNSE expect to build their roster with overpriced contracts.
Unfortunately there is no way to discern the likelihood of this plan at our current juncture, which does create disdain for the doubters.
Mark Scheifele seems to be doing a great job for the team so far. How's he fitting in among the rest of the players? Do you expect to see him be part of a long-term core?
Scheifele has certainly come a long way over the past two months and it's large in part due to Claude Noel's reluctant decision to pair him alongside Evander Kane. The duo have been fantastic together and the addition of Michael Frolik on the other wing has complimented Winnipeg's best puck possession line.
I'll admit that I didn't think Scheifele had the tools to become a first line centre at the NHL level upon first glance, but when paired with a gifted scorer such as Kane, his creativity has flourished in his newly minted role. He has certainly embraced being the "guy behind the guy" and for the Jets to be successful moving forward, they will need Scheifele to continue flourishing. So far as one of the NHL's top rookie scorers, he looks like he'll be the real deal.
What should the Flames be targeting in trying to get past the Jets?
Calgary should come into this game looking to shoot the puck early and often. With Evander Kane out of the line-up with a hand injury, Dustin Byfuglien will be asked to play a forward role which weakens Winnipeg's back-end significantly.
Having the home ice change, it will be important for Bob Hartley to expose match-ups against Mark Stuart when at all possible as he is far-and-away Winnipeg's worst defenseman. To put it nicely, normally puck-play stays in their zone when he is deployed. His Corsi numbers are where dreams go to die, but you used to employ Cory Sarich so obviously you know the feeling.
Plus, Ondrej Pavelec is a sieve. Capitalize on this as much as possible.
With the Jets sitting in last place in the division, I'm sure a lot of fans are looking ahead to future bright seasons. Who are the most exciting young names in the Jets system right now? How does the future look?
Three names that are garnering plenty of praise aside from Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba are Adam Lowry, Nicolas Petan and Joshua Morrissey who are presently playing in the AHL and CHL repsectively. While all three are solid young players who will be relied upon to build a youthful NHL core moving forward, I am particularly enamoured with the play of recent call-up Eric O`Dell.
An original second round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, O`Dell has been a leading scorer for the St. John's IceCaps each of the past two seasons. Due to the bevy of injuries that stuck the roster in December, he has been rewarded with a look at the NHL and is making the most of it.
The twenty-two year old product of Ottawa, ON has worked hard in his brief stint and has scored in each of his past two games as a result.
An underdog in every sense of the word, O`Dell has a lot of the qualities required to be an everyday NHLer, but whether he is the victim of a numbers game when his teammates heal up remains to be seen.