The Winnipeg Jets have been riddled with injuries in the past weeks, but a silver lining has emerged: Players such as Eric O’Dell and Eric Tangradi have thrived in the past few games with the increase in ice time.
The Jets’ depth has been a constant issue for the entire 2013-14 season. From Claude Noel‘s over-playing of the fourth line to Paul Maurice’s lack thereof, consistency has been only a dream for players like Anthony Peluso and Tangradi. O’Dell, along with Patrice Cormier, has made the trip from the AHL’s St. John’s Ice Caps to Winnipeg more than once this season.
Now that Jets’ forwards such as Mark Scheifele and Chris Thorburn have been dealt long-term injuries, there has been a slight changing of the guard with players like Tangradi becoming full-time contibutors, and O’Dell and Cormier also dressing each night for the Jets.
In fact, I have noticed quite the improvement from each individual player, as well as the bottom-six as a whole. Two months ago, I would not have expected the Jets to be close to the St. Louis Blues with only 10 minutes left in the game, especially with Eric O’Dell playing 15:09 in the game. However, O’Dell scored the lone goal in that game, and playing a second-line role alongside a player with the skill-set of Evander Kane has vastly improved his puck management and defensive mind.
In the past three games, the Jets have contended with the league-leading St. Louis Blues, and beat the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. Success like this does not come without a do-or-die mentality, and a 100% effort from all four lines. No matter where Cormier, Tangradi, Peluso, and O’Dell have played in the past week, I have been impressed overall. As players such as Jim Slater and Dustin Byfuglien make their return to the lineup, the Jets can become a deeper team and contend against playoff-bound clubs in the next month, hopefully earning a playoff spot in the process.
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