Jets a work in progress
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Lightning forward Brett Connolly battles for the puck with Jets forward Mark Stuart at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., Oct. 29, 2011. (MIKE CARLSON/Reuters)
PLANTATION, FLA. - The evolution of the Winnipeg Jets remains a work in progress.
Head coach Claude Noel understood it was going to take some time before finding out what kind of team was in his midst and through 10 games of the NHL season, the Jets are starting to take shape.
With a record of 3-6-1, the Jets currently reside in the basement of the Southeast Division and are 14th in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
But what has Noel learned about his group?
“We look like we’re organized, I like the way we work,” Noel said on Sunday. “As long as we can defend, we can get to winning games. We’re all going in the right direction and I’m pretty happy with that. We have a young group and we’ll be fine. All we need to do is get the building blocks together and keep moving forward.”
Goaltending has been excellent in several games, lousy in a few and generally average in the majority.
The Jets will need above average goaltending at the bare minimum and more often than not, stellar netminding to compete in the competitive Eastern Conference.
Defence was said to be an area of strength going into the season and to this point, you’d have to say there have been some positive signs but as a whole, the group has under-performed.
“We want to play fast and quick and we have to get our defencemen more involved in the play. It doesn’t come natural for us to just jump up in the play,” said Noel. “We’ve got to spend less time in our zone.”
Dustin Byfuglien is finding his way inside a new system and has just one goal and four points in 10 games, while Toby Enstrom had a slowish start, but now has one goal and six points in 10 games.
Both Byfuglien and Enstrom have been playing better since being paired together and Zach Bogosian is showing plenty of promise in his fourth NHL season.
As for the forwards, Alex Burmistrov has been a pleasant surprise in his second NHL season and looks to be ahead of schedule in terms of his development.
A healthy Nik Antropov has been a force, especially since moving to centre from the wing.
Guys like captain Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Evander Kane are playing better of late but the quartet needs to produce more offensively for this team to string wins together more consistently.
“We’ve generated a fair bit, but in some areas we’re not getting a lot of results,” said Noel. “It looks like goal scoring is going to be a fair challenge for us.”