Winnipeg Jets head coach Noel speaks with Antropov and Ladd during NHL pre-season action against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Winnipeg

Winnipeg isn’t ready to blow up its roster…yet


Things are pretty grim in Winnipeg at the moment.

The Jets have lost four straight and five of seven. They’ve yet to string together more than two straight wins and are buried near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Head coach Claude Noel has repeatedly blasted his team and already played the closed-door meeting card. (Just five games into the year!)

So, what comes next? Talk of shipping people out, of course.

Paul Waldie of the Globe and Mail discussed that possibility after the Jets put forth arguably their worst performance of the year in a 5-2 loss to Florida last night. Winnipeg spotted the Panthers a 4-0 lead after two dismal periods, pushing Noel to tear a strip off his team.


“Right now this is unacceptable. This is not what we’re going to be about moving forward,” Noel said. “You may think this is what we are, but it’s not going to get shaped this way. This is not going to go. This is not what I want, and this will not be the representation that we’re getting.”

Breaking it down, you can see why some are predicting roster changes. Phrases like “this is not what we’re going to be about” and “it’s not going to get shaped this way” and “this is not what I want” all sound like someone that kinda hates the makeup of his squad.

Waldie’s piece notes the Jets aren’t ready to blow things up yet — I wonder if they can blow it up at all. What exactly can they do? Winnipeg likely wants to keep its 25-and-under core of Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Alex Burmistrov, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian. That doesn’t leave much for NHL GMs to drool over.

Nikolai Antropov could be a nice addition for a playoff team, but not with one year left on his deal at $4 million. Same goes for Ron Hainsey, only he’s even more expensive ($4.5 million). Johnny Oduya’s unrestricted this year and could fetch Winnipeg something, but what? And will trading him really fix the problem?

Speaking of problems, there’s Dustin Byfuglien’s five-year, $26 million deal — the problem being Byfuglien has been terrible since signing it. Winnipeg inherited that deal from the old Thrashers regime (be sure to thank Rick Dudey, Jets fans) and it’s now about as movable as concrete.

So sure, Winnipeg might eventually want to ship players out. That’s the easy part.

The hard part will be finding teams to ship them to.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)