Kevin Cheveldayoff

Jets GM is making calls, takings calls — but is change coming?


Kevin Cheveldayoff may be frustrated, and he’s willing to make a move if the right one presents itself. But the Jets’ general manager isn’t going to make a change just for the sake of change.

“On this side of it, you make calls, you take calls, you’re always looking and talking to different people within the game, other managers, your scouts,” Cheveldayoff said, per the Winnipeg Free Press.

“There are multiple, easy avenues that seem like they’re the way to go but there are 30 teams in this league that are doing the same thing and trying to effect that ultimate goal and that’s to win the Stanley Cup.”

The Jets seem pretty far away from that ultimate goal these days. After a good win Monday in Columbus, they blew a 2-0 lead last night in Buffalo, eventually falling 4-2 to the Sabres, aka the worst team in the NHL.

Firing coach Claude Noel would be the easiest change for Cheveldayoff to make. But then, is the coach really the problem?

A big trade would shake things up as well. But mid-season swaps are typically tougher to make, and they’re especially tough this season with so many teams up against the salary cap.

After 36 games, Winnipeg sits 10 points back of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. According to Sports Club Stats, the Jets have a 1.6 percent chance of making the postseason. Which is to say, if Cheveldayoff is realistic, 2013-14 may be beyond salvaging in terms of making the playoffs.

But if he holds off on any major change before the season ends and his team does indeed miss the playoffs (again), staying inactive during the summer may not be an option in a city that’s moved beyond the excitement of having its hockey team back. The fans want results now.

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.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.