Tag:Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:09 pm
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Weekend Preview: Bryzgalov gets to meet Winnipeg

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Let's call this the Ilya Bryzgalov tour of fun.

It started with Bryz facing his former team on Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes. His old pals still in the Phoenix red? Let's just say not all of them had flattering comments to make about their former netminder.

There was Derek Morris (no, not THAT Derek Morris) talking about how Bryzgalov gives up soft goals. He even went so far as to say he's glad Bryzgalov is gone and Mike Smith is in. Adrian Aucoin wasn't the most complimentary either.

In the end Bryzgalov got the last laugh with a 2-1 win. Afterward he was only complimentary of his ex-squad.

"It's my former team and not an easy team to beat," he said.

That was Step I, reunion with the team he used to play for. Step II is visiting the city he could have played for, but never would have on Saturday afternoon.

You remember earlier this year, before the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, don't you? Most of the speculation was that the Coyotes, not the Thrashers would become the Jets. So Bryzgalov was asked for his thoughts on the matter and considering he's usually always candid, the response he gave didn't exactly sit well with the 'Peggers.

Here is what he said in April.

"You don't want to go to Winnipeg, right?" Bryzgalov said. "Not many people live there, not many Russian people there. Plus it's cold. There's no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It's going to be tough life for your family.

"I better go to somewhere in Russia, KHL, to be honest. Because KHL is Russian people, it's family, friends. Even as a cold place, I can speak to people in Russian language."

Think the people in Winnipeg forgot about that? Of course not. After all, there is no excitement except the hock ...

Bryzgalov remembers it too, and he did back off a bit on Friday.

"I didn't mean it and I didn't want to offend anybody," Bryzgalov said (from Ted Wyman at the Winnipeg Sun). "I'm pretty sure it's good people, beautiful people live in Winnipeg. I'm pretty sure it's passionate fans. I didn't mean it to be honest. That's it."

Since returning to the NHL this season, the Jets fans have enjoyed once again the art of goalie taunting. No doubt they will serenade the goalie with "Illlll-yaaaa" chants all game long, but they could have just a little more juice in store. A popular Jets fan forum has taken to posting sign ideas for fans at the game. I'm envisioning a WWE event or ESPN College Gameday site with signs all over in the crowd. Make it happen Winnipeg.

Of course, with all of the anticipation in Winnipeg for the chance to boo and jeer Bryzgalov, it will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky that starts.

As far as the game on the ice is concerned, the Jets are playing better hockey these days and have been getting the habit of knocking off some of the traditionally stronger East teams at home. They come into the game against the Flyers -- the top team in the East at the moment -- having won the last two home games, both against teams in the playoffs last year (Capitals and Lightning). They also knocked off the Penguins at home early in the season.

When you add in the absence of Jaromir Jagr for the game and it won't be a walk in the park (get it?) for Bryzgalov and the Flyers.

Back on track

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Canadiens were in disarray. They were off to their worst start in more than 60 years. Assistant coach Perry Pearn was fired. Jacques Martin seemed to be only a couple of losses away from meeting the same fate.

Since an October 24 loss to the Florida Panthers and the subsequent dismissal of Pearn, the Canadiens have very quietly rebounded. I mean, when have you known the Habs to do anything quietly? They have posted a 7-3-1 record since that game and have climbed within three points of the division-leading Sabres.

The natural connection to make is to see the team has done well since firing Pearn, so that must have something to do with it. While I don't want to completely dismiss the idea -- there could be some credence to the belief that it was a "wakeup call" for the Habs players -- it probably is more coincidental than anything. Montreal just happened to have a rough patch at the beginning of the season.

This is where I caution you not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. The Canadiens have evened themselves out and are at .500 (if we treat OT losses as ties). Of course, that doesn't mean Martin's seat isn't still hot, it's just not scalding at the moment. He's been passed by Scott Arniel and Paul Maurice in the hot seat rankings.

We will get a better idea of which team more closely resembles the truth: the one that started the season or the one that is 7-3-1 of late. That's because they will go up against arguably the hottest team in hockey on Saturday night. What the Rangers been up to lately? Oh, they're just on a seven-game win streak.

Roller coast of tough love

Speaking of highs and lows, check out the Detroit Red Wings. Talk about a roller coaster of emotion.

The Wings came out of the gate winning their first five games. They followed that up with six straight losses before rebounding with four consecutive wins. Now they have lost two in a row. Pretty amazing for a team to be 17 games in without anything but a streak.

Overall, they have lost five in a row on the road.

"It's tough, nothing that we want to do," said Henrik Zetterberg of the road losing streak. "We have another chance Saturday [in Los Angeles] to turn it around."

That will come on Saturday afternoon against an on-the-up Kings team, 4-1-0 in their last five.

"Do we want to be a good team or not?" coach Mike Babcock said about what will be the subject matter of a team meeting (Detroit News). "Life doesn't just go on good for you. You make a decision it's going to go good for you. You decide for yourself you're going to be successful. You decide for yourself that you're going to make a difference and have a good career. No one just gives you stuff.

"The other teams are trying to. We have to make some decisions."

Ovie debate continues

Alex Ovechkin is drawing a lot of heat these days, and unfortunately for him it isn't over goal celebrations.

At first glance, his numbers don't seem bad (seven goals and seven assists in 17 games) but this is Ovie we're talking about here. Obviously a lot is expected of him.

Right now he is struggling. And, maybe as a result, the Capitals are struggling. Are the two connected? Somewhat. Obviously No. 8 is a big part of the Caps. They especially need more than one goal in a five-game span, such as his current stretch.

So what better place than Toronto for Ovechkin and Washington get find their confidence again? Since James Reimer went down, the goaltending in Toronto has returned to its pre-Reimer state: atrocious. Moreover, Ovechkin has always put up good numbers at the Leafs' place, scoring 23 goals in 23 games there.

It would help ease some of the increasing hysteria in "the nation's hockey capital" if he and the Caps could bust out the scoring stick again in a Hockey Night in Canada showcase.

How much more for Maurice?

That's becoming a popular question in NHL circles right now. Is Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice one or two more losses away from being fired?

Something's gotta give right now in Carolina. The 'Canes have lost six of seven and their star player, Eric Staal, is still struggling to make much of an impression. This was supposed to be a year of progression, not the other way around. After just barely missing the playoffs last spring, the hopes were that the 'Canes would again contend for the postseason as presently constructed.

It would probably go a long way toward calming the panic that is setting in not only among the fans, but GM Jim Rutherford as well, if they handle the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. As you'll recall, Rutherford has fired Maurice before, he could certainly do it again.

We're going streaking

As the great Lou Brown said in Major League: "Gentlemen, we won yesterday. If we win today, that's two in a row. If we win tomorrow, that's what they call a winning streak. It has happened before."

So with that obvious definition in mind, here's a look at the winning streaks in play.

Flyers: As mentioned above, they play in Winnipeg on Saturday and they enter having won three in a row.

Rangers: Also covered, they have won seven games in a row and take that streak into Saturday's tilt against the Habs.

Boston Bruins: The B's also enter the weekend winners of their last seven games and only have one game to play, that's Saturday at the Islanders.

Ottawa Senators: Yes, the Sens have found themselves on another run, winning three in a row. Their lone weekend game comes on Sunday night in Vancouver.

Chicago Blackhawks: Riding a four-game streak, the Blackhawks will have to do the Alberta two-step with the Flames on Friday and Oilers on Saturday.

St. Louis Blues: That's right, that Ken Hitchcock move is working out pretty well. The head to Minnesota having won three consecutive.

Kings: Lastly (boy there are a lot of streaks right now) the aforementioned Kings also take a three-game run into their Saturday game against the Red Wings.

Among the losing steaks, we'll just list the top (or bottom) and that's the Oilers, losers of four in a row.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 17, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 4:14 pm
 

Jets' Noel recounts his real 'Slap Shot' memories

By Brian Stubits

Grab your favorite beer -- or non-alcoholic beverage for the underage readers out there -- and gather 'round. Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel has a tale to tell.

On Thursday night, his Jets host the Washington Capitals. It's the first time they have met since the Jets moved to Winnipeg and Noel became the head coach. Considering Noel and Caps coach Bruce Boudreau go way, way back, a reporter asked Noel about his relationship with Boudreau.

The answer he gave twisted into a great retelling of some of Noel's experiences in minor-league hockey, specifically playing against the Johnstown Jets. That's the team better known as the real-life Charlestown Chiefs.

So if you're a fan of Slap Shot -- and chances are if you are reading this, you consider that movie to be the basis of the real Hanson brothers, not some bad band or even dressed as the Hanson brothers for Halloween -- you will love this interview. It is a little long -- six minutes -- but it's a great tale of days gone by and worth listening to.

So Noel didn't have to even go see the movie, he lived it.

Noel also mentions that he has a lot of these types of stories he could tell. Must be great to be one of his grandkids.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:41 am
 

Flyers chairman Snider expects total realignment

By Brian Stubits

It's been a while since our last realignment update. When last we left you, the Flyers and Penguins were sharing their displeasure with any proposal that had them in separate divisions/conferences.

All along, the reports have said the NHL was looking to do as little as possible in regards to moving teams. In a perfect world for the powers that be, the Jets would be moved into the Central, perhaps the Blue Jackets go in the Southeast and you call it a day.

But life isn't that simple. There is the pressure of the Red Wings to move East. There is also the looming uncertainty of the Coyotes in Phoenix and whether they might move to, say, Quebec City.

Throw all of the above angles into a crockpot with the other spices affecting the situation added in and you have "total realignment" cooking, according to Flyers chairman Ed Snider.

“There has to be,” Snider told Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly about total realignment. “But our traditional rivalries will always be with us no matter how it is realigned. I’m pretty confident of that.”

Perhaps the reason for his confidence in that is his belief that the Pennsylvania teams will remain together, something which the proposal that was reportedly gaining steam did not feature.

“We’ll be together without question, if under a four conference set-up,” Snider predicted of the Flyers and Penguins. “We will have all our traditional rivals and some others in a four-conference setup.”

The question begs: what is total realignment? Could that be a situation where conferences aren't divided by east and west but instead split seemingly at random like the NFL and MLB? Does it mean a return to the four-conference format, as Snider alludes to? Does it mean Florida is joining the Northwest Division?

I think about the only thing we can safely assume is that "total realignment" would include the abolition of the six-division format currently in use. I wouldn't rule anything else out at this point (OK, I guess I'd rule out that Florida-to-Northwest, too).

If I had to put money down I'd expect to see the four-conference format that we used to enjoy, and not just because Snider hinted at it. I think it could give the league the most flexibility in the case of a Phoenix move to the East.

The idea has been discussed already of having unbalanced conferences a la Major League Baseball (although it looks like that won't remain as the Houston Astros are reportedly moving to the American League). Assuming that enough franchises would be happy with that idea, the realignment starts with 15 teams per conference and then they could easily flip to the unbalanced, 16/14 look with simply switching the Coyotes franchise to the East after their hypothetical move. If they stay, then you keep balanced conferences.

When this is all said and done, I can't imagine everybody will be happy. But such is life, the teams with the most clout -- Philadelphia and Pittsburgh each fall into this category -- are much more likely to get their way.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 3, 2011 3:11 pm
 

Jets' Enstrom to be out with a broken collarbone

By Brian Stubits

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom is out indefinitely according to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. Enstrom sustained a broken collarbone in the team's 4-3 shootout win over the Panthers on Halloween night.

Enstrom's injury came near the end of the second period with the Jets ahead 2-1. Enstrom was chasing the puck after it was dumped into the zone, as was the fore-checking Jack Skille of the Panthers. The two approach the puck at the same time so Skille laid a brutal hit on Enstrom.

Here's the play.

The Jets were clearly unhappy as Dustin Byfuglien immediately tried to instigate a fight with Skille, who declined. Later, captain Andrew Ladd did the dirty work, giving Skille a good beating in the third period.

Folks in Winnipeg weren't happy with the hit. The feeling was that it was worthy of a suspension, but the league ruled otherwise. In this case I agree with the league's decision, I thought any head contact was incidental and that Enstrom's reaching for the puck contributed to the danger. Now Scottie Upshall's hit earlier in the game on the other hand ...

The loss of Enstrom is not an easy one for the Jets to take. In the last two seasons he has eclipsed the 50-point mark, including 51 points last season in just 72 games. This season he had a goal and five assists in 11 games. But more importantly, the Jets aren't necessarily loaded with quality defensemen. Mark Stuart is dealing with an upper-body issue at the moment himself while Johnny Oduya has shown he still has some growing to go.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 2, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Sens uni designer offers third jersey for Jets

By Brian Stubits

The Winnipeg Jets came about so quickly this summer, they barely had time to design jerseys for the team to wear. Obviously they did, but there wasn't enough time to come up with an alternate. But you can always go back and create a third jersey.

That's what the Jets are reportedly looking into at the moment. While it was made clear that the Jets wanted to create a new identity rather than go back to the old Jets logo. Makes sense, even if fans wanted to see the retro design come back.

But who says the third jersey can't pay an homage? Not Jacob Barrette, the man who designed the Ottawa Senators' heritage jerseys they are wearing this season.

The designer has created a sweater design for the Jets to mull over. I'll just let him describe it (image and text from www.icethetics.info)

As opposed to what I was able to accomplish with the Ottawa Senators Heritage uniform — a full out nod to the old Senators franchise — this Jets alternate concept borrows elements from the old and new era. While a refreshed old logo is used as the main mark, the current crest appears on the shoulders to create a link between old and new.

While the logo was given a makeover, the lines on the jersey fully respect those of the uniforms worn between 1990 and 1996. However, the base color used is the newly introduced polar night blue. Laces were added, cause, well, I won't pretend there's a reason for those, they just looked nice, but that is an element worth debating.

What was done:

  Created a new, modern typeface to refresh the Jets word mark.
  Added shading to the word mark. This was also a way to incorporate both shades of blue which comprise the new Jets brand.
  Added an inner blue ring to the logo and silver ring to the outside. The silver ring creates a link between the logo and the jet present on the shoulder patches.
  The jet was removed from the logo to create a more balanced look, but is still present on the jersey via the shoulder patches.
  The NHL shield area is silver, again to subtly bring back that shade.
  The typeface for the numbers would be the same as the newly introduced uniforms but with a red outline as the slanted numbers compliment the JETS word mark.

Check the icethetics page for more details.

It's a solid, solid design and I love the touch of crossing the then and now. I have a feeling that these would be wildly popular in Winnipeg, as if Jets stuff isn't already.

What say you?

Photo: Icethetics

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:50 am
 

Pens, Flyers agree in opposing realignment idea

By Brian Stubits

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers actually agree on something. What's going to happen next, Don Cherry joining the anti-fighting crowd?

The two teams are united in their opposition of the realignment plan of the moment, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Why are they against the proposed idea? It currently has the Keystone State rivals in separate divisions. They hate each other so much they just can't quit each other. Or something like that.

The Penguins declined comment, but team sources confirmed Monday a report Saturday by the Canadian Broadcast Corp. that the franchise is not happy with a realignment plan that would divide the NHL into four unbalanced divisions and thus separate Pennsylvania's two clubs.

The Flyers told the Delaware County Times that they support the Penguins' stance.

"We are in 100 percent agreement with the Pittsburgh Penguins," said Flyers president Peter Luukko. "We are in close communication with them on this subject. This is a big rivalry that means a lot, not only to us as a franchise, but to our fans, their fans, and the entire state of Pennsylvania."

The realignment plan that appears to be gaining a lot of traction at the moment is commissioner Gary Bettman's idea for four divisions, two with eight, two with seven. Obviously the Jets will rightfully be moved to the West and then it becomes just a matter of either the Red Wings or the Blue Jackets going East.

Because part of that proposal calls for a home-and-home series against every team in the NHL with the rest of the games to be played within your division. So it's easy to see how the Flyers and Penguins would try to shoot this idea down now; playing each other only twice in a season? Wouldn’t be right.

Ironically enough, this same balanced schedule could be what sends the Blue Jackets to the East instead of Detroit. Wings owner Mike Ilitch has been very vocal about his desire for the Wings to fly East, but he has softened his stance a bit lately if he could get a guarantee for a home-and-home against every team. I think even Ilitch can see Columbus needs the move more. Detroit can stay in the West and nothing will change, it will continue to have one of the biggest fan bases in the game.

If this becomes the biggest point of contention against this plan getting approved. I wonder how willing they would be to alter a team or two in the divisional lineup. If it ends up being Detroit who goes East, it would seem to be simple enough to swap Detroit and Philadelphia in the lineups. It keeps the competitive balance nearly the same and the only drawback is Detroit gets stuck with teams further to the south and in a division opposite Toronto. But at this point, beggars can't really be choosers.

If Columbus is the lucky winner, it's a bit tougher to make things line up right. You have to keep traditional balance in line, among other things. Yes, organizations go through ups and downs and you can't guarantee who will be good and who won't, but you have a good idea what teams will be competitive more often than not, which markets traditionally yield a winner.

So my simple enough suggestion -- if this is the plan they truly want to use -- is to flip Washington and Pittsburgh. The downside for the Capitals is that they won't be in a division with Philadelphia or Pittsburgh (or New York). But really, the Caps haven't had a real rival since moving into the Southeast Division and while the Flyers, Penguins and Rangers are probably the best they have in the rivalry department.

Those are about the only ways I think they could appease the Pennsylvania teams and stay within the four-division format while keeping equal and roughly geographically responsible groupings. So have fun with that, commish.

In the meantime, I'll be waiting for that change of heart from Cherry.

Photo: CBC

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 11:23 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 1:24 am
 

Bryzgalov says he stinks, has no confidence

By: Adam Gretz

Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to be the answer to the one problem the Philadelphia Flyers have been trying to solve since Ron Hextall was occupying the crease -- goalie. The Flyers have so much confidence that Bryzgalov is the man to get them over the postseason hump that after acquiring his free agent rights over the summer from the Phoenix Coyotes, they signed him to an enourmous nine-year, $51 million contract that was also accompanied by the trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

The entire sequence of events basically made Bryzgalov the face of the franchise. After two starts, Bryzgalov allowed just one goal in wins against Boston and New Jersey, and all seemed to be well. Over his past six appearances, however, everything has been a struggle.

He didn't start the Flyers' 9-8, goaltending optional loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, but did enter the game after Sergei Bobrovsky allowed five goals in less than two periods of work. Bryzgalov wasn't any better and surrendered four goals on just 10 shots. Add that performance to his previous five, and he's allowed 25 goals on 157 shots for a brutal .840 save percentage since a shutout against New Jersey. Given how tough of a hockey market Philadelphia can be, there's no doubt some serious concern filling the call-in shows.

And Bryzgalov's post-game comments on Thursday might be causing some panic.

"I have zero confidence in myself right now," said Bryzgalov during his post-game interview. "I just can't stop the puck, it's very simple. You can't ask more from the forwards, they scored eight goals and we're still losing."

He later added that he feels like he's "lost in the woods right now."

You can watch his entire presser right here, via Flyers beat writer Anthony SanFillippo:



Bryzgalov definitely has a bit of a personality to him, and it's not uncommon for him to give candid -- and sometimes bizarre -- quotes in interviews, but it's a bit early in the season to sound that defeated.

The Flyers are currently without their best defenseman, Chris Pronger, following an eye injury he suffered against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and in their first two games without him they've given up 14 goals against two teams off to bad starts in Montreal and Winnipeg. The defense is a mess, and the goaltending isn't helpinng.

Bryzgalov had his best seasons in Phoenix playing in Dave Tippett's tight defensive system, and it was going to be interesting to see how he would adjust to the changes around him. Like Roberto Luongo in Vancouver Bryzgalov isn't going to be this bad all season, but in Philadelphia, where the home town team blew up its roster to acquire -- and sign -- him this isn't the start anybody was looking for.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 23, 2011 1:53 pm
 

Mark Scheifele headed back to juniors

By: Adam Gretz

In a move that should not be much of a surprise at this point, the Winnipeg Jets have decided to send their first-round pick, forward Mark Scheifele, back to his junior team, the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. His first taste of the NHL lasted seven games, while he averaged just a little over 10 minutes of ice-time per game. He scored one goal, which came during a 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last week.

Sending him back to Juniors for another year should serve his development well and playing top-line minutes with the Colts will be better than playing 10 minutes in the NHL before he's ready. Especially when it would do nothing waste a year of his entry-level deal while struggling through a season on a team that is unlikely to make the playoffs. This way he gets to go back to Barrie, work on his game and play against an age-appropriate level of competition.

He was the No. 7 overall pick in the June draft after he scored 22 goals to go with 53 assists in 66 games with Barrie last season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com