Ok it’s that time of year. Yes the time where absolutely zero is going on in the form of substantial hockey news. What’s a hockey blogger to do during the summer doldrums? Why make bold and probably wrong pre-season predictions of course. We assemble the paper teams and imagine the upcoming battles that will ensue. There’s a saying in the Military though, that most battle plans fall apart after the first shot is fired. With that in mind, the teams will ultimately have to play the games and fate will no doubt play a part.
So for lack of anything better to do, I prevailed upon the wisdom of the Hard Six hockey panel and asked a simple question. Will the Jets make the playoffs?
I sporadically received answers, because apparently a lot of people aren’t thinking about hockey in August. However Canucks Fan replied with a shockingly objective and comprehensive analysis. Remember this is a guy who has no skin in the game. We don’t play in his division and he's never stepped foot on Manitoba soil. Also remember, this is his opinion, not mine, so don’t shoot the messenger.
So without further delay I give you Canucks Fan:
Jets make the playoffs? Can't see it.
Which team will they catch? Washington, Phily, Tampa Bay, or Pittsburg? Boston wont slide far enough for sure - leaving the NY Rangers - who are prone to bring in what is needed to get the job done (well, at least MAKE the playoffs) so I don't see them as 'catchable'
Montreal and Buffalo are the ones that would need to be beat from those who made the playoffs last year. This, of course also ignores the other non playoff teams. Carolina, Toronto, NJ, NY Islanders, Ottawa and Florida are spinning their wheels and have been for years, so I’m comfortable with the assumption that they won't make it. (except maybe Ottawa who may surprise and be a top eight - but not with strength if it DOES happen)
So .... Montreal and Buffalo are the targets .... have the Jets improved more than these teams? Can their youth overcome Montreal and Buffalo's experience?
Montreal's forwards seem to figure stuff out enough to win. On paper, I don't see anything that would make me believe this team is a 'winner', but they seem to be able to compete, at least without PRAYING their youth will "step up" which is pretty much the story for the Jets.
Buffalo has always had some potential in their forward lot and the present roster continues that trend - Roy, Boyes, Gaustad, Stafford, Vanek? I'd say Buffalo's forwards are the better of the three.
Tip of the hat to Buffalo. Montreal a slight nod over Winnipeg.
Montreal's 'D'? Strong and can play ... Subban is a stud, Gill solid, Markov- proven (when not injured), Spacek ... these guys are solid game in, game out. Buffalo has shored up their 'D', but have yet to see the results - Erhoff, Regher and Leopold will be an improvement over what they relied on last year with Sekera a solid contributer. Compare these guys to the Jets Bogosian, Bygfuglien, Hainsey, Oduya and Enstrom. For the Jets to make it, this D corp has to achieve consistency and maintain it. I don't see that happening, but if it does, this would be the area that will make or break their playoff possibility in my opinion.
Tip of the hat to Montreal (Subban himself tips the scale) .... Buffalo with the nod over Winnipeg.
Price is hot and cold - but consistently more hot then cold (if that makes sense!) Pavelec? A wild card ... and Miller? cmon! Tip of the hat to Buffalo ... is Pavelec that good? will Price be that bad? October won't come soon enough!
I predict the Jets will be in the action, but will not make the final cut into the playoffs unless Price finally does falter for good, or the Jets 'D' suddenly find consistency and mature together as a unit out of nowhere.
Can a fella named Claude Noel who apparently has a solid following in the IHL, AHL and ECHL not only make the transition to the NHL, but coach a team in need of some solid focus into the playoffs in his first year?
- Canucks Fan