Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/12/2014 (1799 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 9/12/2014 (1799 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They are hardly the Broad Street Bullies, reincarnated.
The Portage Avenue Pulverizers? The Hargrave Street Heavies? Don't even bother going there.
But the Winnipeg Jets have made more trips to the penalty box than any other team in the National Hockey League through the first chunk of the 2014-15 season.
So, Jets coach Paul Maurice was asked Monday, is being the most-penalized a growing concern or just part of this team's identity?
Note: That the question came roughly at the same time Jets forward Evander Kane was in the middle of a telephone hearing with the NHL department of player safety for his checking-from-behind penalty on Clayton Stoner was an intriguing coincidence. (Kane received a two-game suspension. Please see page C2.)
"You play an aggressive, tight-gap game, you have more confrontations on the ice," said Maurice. "The (penalties) we want to eliminate are the one-handed stick infractions. You don't like them on video and you're wondering why they have to be called, when really what you need to do is just not (take them).
"The concern is when you get the reputation of being the highest-penalized team, you lose the benefit of the doubt. It's, 'It must be a penalty, it's Winnipeg.' We talk about it... I don't want to lose any of that other piece... if the byproduct being we're taking more penalties, then we have to do that, because playing a different game won't be to our strength."
All of this could be part of the transformation — one still very much in progress — of the Jets from a team that was often too easy to play against, lacked a defensive foundation and, as a result, has been a playoff spectator since 2006-07.
In going 14-9-5 through the first 28 games — 13-5-5 since a 1-4 start — the Jets have not only established a defence-first philosophy that has them ranked fourth overall in goals against (2.21 per game), but also not being pushed around. That tone was set early with Jets forward Blake Wheeler, of all people, dropping the gloves twice in the first three games and three times in the first 14 contests.
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"We like to play on the edge a bit. We like to make things hard on the other team," said Jets centre Bryan Little. "We've got some big guys, some fast guys that play physical. Sometimes that's going to happen, we're going to take penalties playing that way. The way our PK has been this year, it's bailed us out a couple of times. If we can continue killing those penalties, then we can still play that physical game and just be a little more careful about the penalties we're taking."
All of this speaks further to the level of buy-in from a crew that has teased in years past, but always seemed to crumble when the playoff push arrived every March/April.
So, the Winnipeg Jets fourth overall in defence and the most-penalized squad in the land... who knew?
"Any guy would do anything for any guy on this team," said centre Mark Scheifele. "Every guy looks to his right or his left and would take a punch for him, would block a shot for him... would do anything for him.
"That's a huge thing this year and huge reason why we've been winning. It comes from everything. It comes from our leadership group teaching the young guys, our coaching. Every guy is buying into it, too, and that's why we're doing it."
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Don't slam the door on your way in, guys
The Jets lead the NHL in total penalties at 156 and total minutes penalized at 192:20. Their 15.2 penalty minutes per game is also the highest, more than double Nashville's average of 7.2., lowest in the league.
The Jets have 15 major penalties, third-most in the league behind Anaheim (16) and Buffalo (18) and their two game misconducts -- to Adam Lowry and Evander Kane -- ties them with Montreal for the highest total.
And, finally, only four teams -- the Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Ducks and San Jose Sharks -- have had more fighting majors than the Jets' 13 this season.