When you talk about the Winnipeg Jets a lot of people have been bringing up firing Claude Noel. Noel has been getting a little bit of flak lately and to me it has been unwarranted. When the Jets play really well, it’s Noel’s system they are following.
Honestly, the Jets play pretty much the same most games; the only kinks in their game have been mistakes. Some dumb mistakes, some unlucky bounces which have cost them goals and when you play 21 one goal games, these mistakes that turn into goals have cost them points.
You can’t blame coaching on a bobbled puck. That’s part of the game, mistakes like that are going to happen from time to time. I’m sure when Dustin Byfuglien tried to get the puck out of his own zone and passed it to Bryan Little, he didn’t want to put it into his skates, but that sometimes happens. Besides sending it down the ice, that pass was Byfuglien’s only play. He’s a right handed shot in the corner to the right of Ondrej Pavelec and he had a couple of players in front of him to put it up the boards and being a right handed shot his angle to put it off the glass was bad because he was kind of turned facing the center of the ice. The Jets make plenty of passes to get out of their own end by passing it up the middle.
Years ago, the one thing we were told to never do was to pass to anyone in front of your own net. Now it’s a play to get the puck out because of the way teams check. Yes it’s a dangerous pass but a lot of teams do it.
The mistakes being made are not coaching. How do you coach Zach Bogosian from losing the puck from behind his own net to Anaheim Duck’s forward Cory Perry which cost the Jets the game? How do you coach a bad pass? No one felt worse than Bogosian and it’s not from a lack of effort, or a coaching mistake. Mistakes happen, and even though they have made a few mistakes that end up in their net, they are a much improved team this year. 21 one goal games will turn into wins regularly if they keep improving and these mistakes won’t be as bad when you can score. This team is young and there will be some growing pains during this rebuild. The Jets had a curve ball thrown at them with a lockout season last year and then changing divisions this year. If, after 30 games, in the 2015-2016 season they aren’t in a playoff position that’s when Kevin Cheveldayoff has to go looking to make a trade. Trades aren’t easy, you have to deal with player’s salaries, one way or two way contracts, no trade clauses, salary cap room, and the list goes on and on. Having a healthy lineup also helps.
What a boost it was to get Evander Kane back against Columbus, he creates so much havoc for opposing teams with his speed and physical play. I bet Noel was happy to get him back. Matt Halischuk, Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik have been playing real well together but when Halischuk went down with an injury, putting Kane on that line has had some instant success.
If you can get a goal or two from that line and a goal or two from Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd, you have a great chance to win every night. Slowly but surely mistakes that cost goals will be limited and we’ll see some consistent winning streaks. Maybe this year, you never know. Teams are so close in the NHL, a combination of a losing streak for Colorado, St. Louis or Minnesota and a winning streak for Winnipeg, Dallas and Nashville and it’s a battle for a playoff spot.
Changing the coach would be a mistake. I liken this team to the New York Islanders of the 1970′s. Al Arbour was coach and the team was pretty bad in 1972 for a couple of years and then they added Brian Trottier in 1975, Mike Bossy in 1977 and added Butch Goring in the spring of 1980 via a trade and they rattled off 4 Stanley Cups in a row. It took that team 8 years to win a Stanley cup and although they were very competitive in the mid to late 1970′s they had to go through growing pains. What would have happened if they decided to fire Al Arbour in 1978 after 47 wins and losing out in the second round? Or the next season when they had 51 wins and lost in the third round. How about the year the Islanders won the cup? They only won 39 games that year and won the cup. They could have dismantled that team if general manager Bill Torrey hadn’t stuck to his guns. We just have to be patient.
I hope the rumours about a rift between Noel and Kane are just that, rumours, because to lose either Noel or Kane would not be good for the Jets, in my humble opinion.