Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Jets' game shows bright spots — and room for improvement

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TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jordan Leopold of the St. Louis Blues plays the puck as Jacob Trouba goes crashing into the boards during the second period.

Bad news was hiding behind every corner for the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, but they somehow managed to diminish the damage.

First, and by far most importantly, the Jets got news from the hospital that rookie defenceman Jacob Trouba was moving and alert after taking a scary spill into the end boards midway through the second period.

Little information was available on Trouba at press time, but the early information was at least encouraging.

Next up was overcoming a two-goal deficit late in the third period to force overtime and then steal a pair of points in the shootout.

The Jets used luck on their first two goals to stay in the game, but give them credit — they stayed focused and kept plugging.

Watching Trouba carted off the ice strapped to a backboard and offering a small wave as he made his exit could have squashed the Jets, but they hung tough.

Trouba wears No. 8, and here’s wishing him a quick and full recovery. Here are eight thoughts on last night’s game.

1. Compete or take a seat

The knock against one-time 30-goal scorer Devin Setoguchi was his work ethic. When he’s working hard, he’s effective and can capitalize on his speed and shot. When he eases up on the gas, he’s ineffective and disappears. Jets coach Claude Noel gave him a seat in the press box Friday night. We’ll see if the message gets through.

2. Too thin

The Jets are too thin at centre ice to send rookie Mark Scheifele to St. John’s, but that’s probably where he should be at this point.

It’s evident Scheifele has the hockey sense and skill to play and contribute at the NHL level, but he’s not physically mature enough to take advantage of his skills. Scheifele doesn’t just get knocked off the puck, he gets blown up.

3. Steaming Steen

Winnipeg native and St. Louis Blues winger Alex Steen now has seven goals and 11 points on the season and has developed into a very strong player. Steen is heavy on the puck and can unload a cannon when given a shooting opportunity. At this pace, he’s a lock to play for Sweden at the Olympics.

4. Buff like a bullet

Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien has gone from a question mark to a favourite where the U.S. Olympic squad is concerned. Byfuglien committed himself to a fitness regime this off-season and has been very strong from the opening faceoff. Checking with some in the know around USA Hockey, they say Byfuglien has played his way into a roster spot.

5. Sixth makes no sense

The Jets have struggled to find an answer with their sixth defenceman this season, as both Paul Postma and Grant Clitsome have proven ineffective. The organization has Zach Redmond in St. John’s, but Clitsome and Postma are on one-way contracts. The Jets feel if they put Postma on waivers for reassignment to St. John’s, they would lose him. Same with Clitsome. Maybe, but it’s becoming clear they need a different answer.

6. Perfect pair

Steve Yzerman will be able to make one of Mike Babock’s decisions this February very easy. Jay Boumeester and Alex Pietrangelo go together like peanut butter and jelly. Smooth, efficient and poised, the duo could just slip into Team Canada jerseys and not miss a beat.

Both can skate and move the puck effectively. No reason to mess with a very good thing.

7. Silly trade talk

So the Buffalo Sabres are willing to talk trade with Ryan Miller. If you were Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, would you kick the tires? Discuss among yourselves.

8. Killing for Kane

Evander Kane has been Winnipeg’s best player most nights this season, but the last two games he’s taken five minor penalties and griped after each one. Noel had enough of the act in the second period last night and gave Kane a seat on the end of the bench for about 10 minutes.

Kane does a lot right, but putting his team in penalty-killing situations so frequently isn’t a plus. He needs to clean it up and shut down the post-call chirping.


gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

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Updated on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 2:13 AM CDT: Adds slide show.

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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