The puck is finally about to drop Friday night for the Jets first game of the season and not that too much stock should be put into the pre-season, but it still does look like the team has some work defensively heading into the regular season. After the first pre-season game I was convinced Hellebuyck was going to play all 82 games, however Rittich did seem to find his game against a couple of mostly AHL player squads. Hopefully he can pick up a couple of wins against Arizona or Seattle. Overall, Hellebuyck looked good which is the best chance the Jets have at making things interesting this season. One thing I am looking forward to heading into the season is the pretty much completely new bottom six. While with the exception of Sam Gagner is not experienced, these checking lines should display a bit of speed and skill. I am expecting a bit more depth scoring from this team this year from Cole Perfetti and Dominic Toninato who both had pretty good pre-seasons. Another nice surprise was that it looks like the organization will have some depth to fill any holes in the lineup this year as a result of any injuries up front. Brad Lambert showing he could have what it takes to be an impact player in the next season or two was inked to an entry level deal just before the season. Although I would be surprised to see him play much in the NHL this year he looks like a promising prospect to be in the pipeline. Defensively, I still don’t think we were as bad on paper as was shown on the ice last year and with the same top 4 any improvement we may see would be a result of coaching in my opinion.
There really is not a whole lot about this team to discuss until the puck drops and some story lines develop as there are a ton of unknowns. Jets have a real good test to see what kind of team they are going to be the first 7 games playing the Rangers, Stars, Avs, Golden Nights, Leafs, Blues and Kings. If they can’t keep their head above water during this stretch their season may be over by the end of October, but if they can stay .500 or better I like their chances of staying in the hunt as the schedule gets much more favorable after that. Either way after a long summer for Jets fans I know we are anxious to see the puck drop.
With Rangers coming off a back to back and Shesterkin playing in Minnesota the night before I will be taking the over in this game.