Jets fall 5-0 to Bruins, make way to Banff

- September 28th, 2013

BANFF, Alta. — Greetings from beautiful Banff, where the Winnipeg Jets are spending a few days before heading to Edmonton to open the NHL season against the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s common for teams to getting a little team bonding in here during the course of a season on an Alberta swing. The New York Rangers were here earlier this month.

Jets players were kept busy all day and didn’t speak to the media today, so we’ll pick their brains about the bonding activities tomorrow when they return to the ice for the first of two final practices before the glare of the bright lights is real.

The Jets had it handed to them by the Boston Bruins on Friday night before a crowd of 12,000-plus at Credit Union Place in Saskatoon.

It wasn’t pretty and to be frank, the score might have flattered the Jets. If you thought backup goalie Al Montoya was the biggest problem in the game, you’d be mistaken.

Yes, Montoya mishandled the puck behind the net to lead to Jordan Caron’s goal (the third for Bs) but he had to make some big saves throughout the contest.

Although it was only the pre-season, there was a lot of disappointment found throughout the Jets’ dressing room.

Checking in with three members of the leadership group — Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler and Olli Jokinen — it was clear that the Jets know there is plenty of work to be done in the coming days.

Having said that, there’s no doom and gloom either.

You can’t just flip the switch and think things will be perfect once the pre-season ends but you can’t over-analyze what’s happened to this point. Not an excuse but the Jets haven’t even dressed their regulars together for one game yet, as they tried to get down to their numbers.

No doubt, the Jets still need to shore up their play in the defensive zone to help improve their goals against and I didn’t see enough evidence this team is going to be tougher to play against, in terms of their physical play.

For sure, that physical game should be enhanced as the intensity rises but the pre-season is about building good habits and there wasn’t quite enough of that taking place, at least not from where I sit in the press box.

Several big questions remain for the Jets, including who are the final three cuts going to be?

Jets head coach Claude Noel said that decision wouldn’t come Saturday and might not even come Sunday either, since all 26 players are here taking part in the team building.

Rookies Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele will be on the team and as I’ve said previously, both should be in uniform for opening night.

I’m very curious to see how Noel starts his line combos and D pairings on Sunday and Monday.

Outside of the top line, there was plenty of tinkering done during the pre-season but now it’s time to hone in on how things are going to look on Tuesday.

There are some important decisions about whether Noel plans to keep Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom together or if it’s going to be Byfuglien with Grant Clitsome (day-to-day, lower body after blocking a shot on Thursday) and Enstrom with Zach Bogosian (also day-to-day but probable for opener).

Think the third pair is Stuart with Trouba, who should see time on second PP unit and possibly on the PK as well.

I don’t have a good feel about what direction Noel is going to go at 2nd-line centre – my view was been clear from the beginning on this subject and Scheifele did finish the game Friday with Evander Kane and Michael Frolik.

Noel confessed he wasn’t happy with a lot of his key guys, so where the chips fall will be an interesting storyline during the coming days.

So are the cuts, though it appears that suspense could drag on until Monday when rosters are due.

Still standing by the belief that while Zach Redmond is probably at No. 7 on the depth chart right now the best place for him is to start the season with St. John’s IceCaps, spend a couple weeks, maybe a month and get some more game action under his belt so that he’s ready to be a big contributor to the Jets should an injury or someone’s play drops off.

Patrice Cormier has shown me he can be a useful guy on the fourth line, especially with his versatility and ability to play both wing and centre and be physical, but again, he’ll probably have to wait for a recall opportunity.

The final cut still has me bouncing back and forth and can’t decipher whether the Jets will go with 13 or 14 forwards or seven or eight D. Had been saying for much of camp I expected 8D, 13F but I flip-flopped the other day and think I’m going to stick with the final answer of 14F, 7D.

Maybe that will become a little clearer in the morning.

Either way, you’d have to think a few of the guys doing the team building exercises are on pins and needles, wondering if they’ve made the club out of camp or not.

Will check back on Sunday.

Categories: Hockey

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1 comment

  1. Bruce whitehead says:

    Philip Larsen just got put on wavers from Edmonton Oilers. He had a great preseason, and may be worth a look.

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