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  • Getty ImagesThe Winnipeg Jets are unequivocally awful. They were awful last year when they couldn't make the playoffs out of the Southeast Division playing exclusively against Eastern Conference teams, and predictably, upon having moved to the West, they are even more awful than they were before. Last year they finished with 53 points in 48 games. As of right now, they're 10 back of that mark in just two fewer games.

    This is easily explained: The Southeast is the worst division in North American sports history, and Conference III, despite the number of mediocre-or-worse teams in its ranks, is a tough out for just about any team if only because of the quality of the Blackhawks and Blues. If the Jets were ill-equipped to deal with the Hurricanes and Panthers of the world, and made few substantial personnel changes in any part of the organization over the summer, then their current 8-14-4 record against the Western Conference, including 5-11-3 in their own division, is something to which you could have set your watch on Oct. 1.

    Of course, there's not a human alive who could have looked themselves in the face coming into this season and expected anything that even resembled success; that the Jets were 24th in the league entering last night's games seems just about right. You might have even been able to make a reasonable argument that they could have been worse than that.

    But all the problems experienced this season — and there have been many — have nonetheless spawned a lot of speculation as to the reasons why they exist, particularly in the last few weeks, as the Jets have gone 3-6-0 in their last nine even as they swing through the East and should, in theory, be in a better position to pick up points.

    These reasons have ultimately boiled down to the same kind of thing that partisan observers always blame when they don't care to actually see the real and obvious answers right in front of them: Nebulous nonsense. The Winnipeg Free Press has argued in the last few weeks that the team is now just being defeatist, they're leaving Ondrej Pavelec overly exposed, the team's “leaders” are as much a reason for this as the coach, and Dustin Byfuglien turns the puck over too often. The Winnipeg Sun, meanwhile, posits that the core stinks, they're not doing “the little things,” and they need to play with a more “blue collar” organizational philosophy, like the Bruins.

    Refutations of the above points, respectively, should include: “that doesn't matter;” “that also doesn't matter;” “that's not true;” “the positives in Byfuglien's game significantly outweigh the negatives, and I'm sorry about saying 'outweigh' and 'Byfuglien' in the same sentence;” “that also isn't true;” “they're not even doing the big things;” and “the Bruins aren't a blue collar team.

    (Actually, that Bruins thing is just mind boggling. They don't have any superstars? Do “the best two-way center alive,” “the best defenseman of his generation,” and “the best goalie in the league” not count?)

    And so now, let's take a look at the ways in which the Jets are actually making big old laughingstocks of themselves on the ice.

    1) Their goaltending is among the worst in the league.

    This is well-trodden territory, obviously, but Ondrej Pavelec is the one of worst starting goalies in the NHL. Among those with 30-plus appearances, his .901 is second only to Devan Dubnyk's .895 in terms of sheer hopelessness.

    That they've limited his appearances significantly this season (34 in 46 games, compared with 44 in 48 last season) is wise, because he only continues to get worse; after posting back-to-back subpar seasons of .906 and .905 in 2011-12 and 2013, respectively, he's down below that this year, which is amazing.

    The league average save percentage is .913, meaning that Pavelec is 12 points behind where he'd need to be to even be the definition of middle-of-the-road. He's allowed an even 100 goals on 1,011 shots, and a goalie with a league-average save percentage would have stopped an extra 12 of those shots. Given the old standard in “advanced” stats that every six goals' worth of goal differential is worth two points (one win), then we can safely assume that Pavelec has cost the Jets two full wins, or four points in the standings.

    With that having been said, the difference between 43 and a theoretical 47 points is obviously not that significant in the grand scheme of things, but 12 additional goals is a big swing. Especially considering the team's goal differential right now is minus-14.

    It's worth noting, too, that the Jets are 11th in team offense, but 27th in defense, more or less for this reason.

    The thing is, though, that the argument you hear from the many inexplicably remaining Pavelec defenders is that the team plays worse in front of him than they do Al Montoya, and that's why the save percentage is as bad as it is. Which brings us to...

    2) They're not improving their possession numbers.

    The results in the standings over the last three seasons, all of them spent in Winnipeg, have

    Read More »from A list of things actually wrong with the Winnipeg Jets (Trending Topics)
  • Getty ImagesThe Florida Panthers are losing money.

    Not the team’s owners, who make a profit from operating the BB&T Center for concerts and other events. But the team itself loses “between $20 [million] and $30 million on an annual basis,” according to president Michael Yormark.

    The solution? You guessed it: Broward County taxpayer bailout!

    According to the Sun Sentinel, Yormark and the Panthers are asking for their contract with the county to be revised, so that additional tourism taxes will pay for $70 million in costs that the Panthers shoulder for their arena. Here are the basics for their proposal:

    The Panthers would shed the $4.5 million annual payment; it would be picked up by the county. The county would contribute $500,000 a year toward maintenance, and would pay any of the property insurance tab that exceeds $1 million. The Panthers would swap the land it has rights to build on, 12 acres south of the arena, in favor of 22 acres on the arena's north side, where the Panthers hope a

    Read More »from Florida Panthers losing $20 million annually; promise competitive team if county funds them
  • Getty ImagesThe danger of going on a reality show is how one moment can come to define you, for better or worse. Like Jessica Simpson’s confusion over whether the tuna in her “Chicken of the Sea” can was actually poultry. Or Bruce Boudreau getting so riled up that his profanity manifested in metaphorical gibberish.

    Thus, after HBO "24/7", Randy Carlyle is The Guy Who Couldn’t Work A Toaster, which is an unfortunate trait when you’re also seen as The Guy Who Can’t Coach The Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Both seem so simply in concept: Play your best players instead of having a slavish reliance on role players of limited skill; have a defensive system that doesn’t result in over 36 shots on goal against per night; execute a gameplan that stresses solid positioning and simple plays, elementary stuff that’s supposed to be second-nature for paid professionals.

    Or, in other words: Put bread in the hot thing and watch it come out as toast.

    But in both situations, Carlyle’s either getting toasted or not getting

    Read More »from The last days of Randy Carlyle
  • At 18:23 of the first period in Los Angeles on Thursday night, Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton was whistled for tripping Kings center Anze Kopitar.

    He would be whistled for another penalty just three seconds after that initial infraction expired, at 26 seconds of the second period. The official explanation was “interference,” but that could be because the NHL doesn’t have a formal penalty for “inconceivable brain fart.”

    As Brad Marchand played the puck around the boards of the Boston zone near the end of their penalty kill, it traveled to center ice. That’s where Hamilton reached out with his stick to corral the puck … with both of his skates still firmly planted inside the penalty box.

    Which is fairly illegal.

    Whoops. His transition to offense was quickly scuttled by a return to the sin bin.

    From NHL Rule 56.2:

    A minor penalty shall be imposed on any identifiable player on the players’ bench or penalty bench who, by means of his stick or his body, interferes with the movements of

    Read More »from Dougie Hamilton takes NHL’s dumbest penalty of season (Video)
  • Getty ImagesNo. 1 Star: Justin Fontaine, Minnesota Wild

    Fontaine became the first Wild rookie to ever notch a hat trick as Minnesota downed the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 for their fourth win in a row. The trick was also their second in three games. Niklas Backstrom stopped 39 shots as the Wild jumped over the Coyotes for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

    No. 2 Stars: Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils and Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues

    Michael Ryder's second period goal was enough for the Devils to edge the Dallas Stars 1-0. Schneider made 26 saves for his third shutout of the season and 12th of his career. The win snapped a three-game losing skid for New Jersey.

    Halak needed 33 saves for his 28th career shutout and third of this season as the St. Louis Blues won their seventh straight with a 5-0 shutout of the Calgary Flames. Five different Blues scored as St. Louis extended their points streak to 10 games.

    No. 3 Star: Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

    Staal scored his first shorthanded goal in almost two years and added a trio of assists for a four-point night as the Hurricanes routed the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. Jeff Skinner scored his 17th goal in his last 17 games as Carolina won their fifth in a row.

    Read More »from NHL Three Stars: Fontaine nets first trick; Schneider, Halak record shutouts
  • Getty Images

    What kind of an effect can alumni games have on a hockey player? Apparently, they help retired ones get the itch again.

    After participating in the Winter Classic alumni game last week at Comerica Park in Detroit, former NHL defenseman Brian Rafalski has decided to attempt a comeback almost three years after he retired.

    On Thursday, the ECHL's Florida Everblades announced that they had come to "contract terms" with the 40-year old blueliner.

    From the Everblades:

    Rafalski, 40, notched 515 points in 11 NHL seasons, split between the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings.

    The Dearborn, Mich., native won three Stanley Cups: 2000 and 2003 with the Devils and 2008 with the Red Wings. He was also on the blue line for Team USA at the last three Winter Olympic Games, taking the Silver Medal in 2002 and 2010.

    “I’m just excited to get back on the ice again and see where God takes me on this journey,” added Rafalski, who had retired from professional hockey following the Red Wings’ exit from

    Read More »from Brian Rafalski signs with ECHL’s Florida Everblades three years after retiring
  • Here is the Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Spotlighting five things to watch for during tonight's slate of games. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.

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    Create-a-Caption: "Fin, the Vancouver Canucks mascot, bites a penguin during the NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Arena."

    • • • • •

    Preview: Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET

    Preview: Dallas Stars at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m. ET

    Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET

    Preview: Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Preview: Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. ET

    Preview: St. Louis Blues at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. ET

    Preview: Minnesota Wild at Phoenix Coyotes, 9 p.m. ET

    Preview: Boston Bruins at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET

    Preview: Detroit Red Wings at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET

    • • • • •

    Five things to know about tonight's NHL games ...

    1. Sabres will listen to Miller. New GM Tim Murray will be the

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Bruins visit Kings; Datsyuk scratched again
  • Getty ImagesRealignment in the National Hockey League sought to restore geographic sanity to the league’s divisions, introduce a rivalry-based playoff format and maintain the parity that’s kept postseason races intense deep into the season for over 15 years.

    But realignment has also given us the Metropolitan Division, which is as terrible in play as it is in name.

    As of Thursday, Jan. 9, only the Pittsburgh Penguins had better than 55 points, with 65 points in 45 games; the Atlantic, Central and Pacific all had at least three teams. (The Pacific currently has four, in fact.)

    Sonnets will be written one day about how the Western Conference has pummeled the East, with 12 of 14 teams at .500 or better against the East. But in particular, the West has been cruel to the poor, poor Metro-terrible Division.

    There are 10 teams in the 14-team West that have two or fewer regulation losses to the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Capitals, Hurricanes, Devils, Blue Jackets and Islanders. Flip that script, and there are only three of 16 teams in the East that have four of fewer regulation losses to the Central Division, the weaker of the two out west.

    So which teams have feasted on the Least of the East?

    Read More »from Which NHL teams have bullied the terrible Metropolitan Division most?
  • Getty Images

    Once he was able to free himself from hockey purgatory, there wasn't much left in Wade Redden's tank.

    A year after the long-time defenseman was finally bought out by the New York Rangers and free to play at the NHL level once again, he has hung up his skates at the age of 36.

    Via the NHLPA:

    “I would first and foremost like to thank my family and friends for their unconditional love and support. I would also like to thank my teammates, coaches and staff for all the great memories created throughout the years. To the fans, I appreciate all your support throughout my career,” said Redden. “Playing in the National Hockey League has been a dream come true and I feel very proud and privileged to have played more than 1,000 games in 14 NHL seasons.”

    Redden spent 14 years in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. He played 1,023 games, scoring 109 and recording 457 points. He won two gold medals at the World Junior Championships; a gold at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and was Olympian in 2006 with Team Canada. A pretty decorated career.

    After being the no. 2 overall pick at the 1996 Draft by the New York Islanders, Redden spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Ottawa Senators. A couple failed trade attempts later by GM Bryan Murray, Redden left for greener pastures in 2008 with a six-year, $39 million contract with the Rangers.

    That's where things went downhill and the second chapter of Redden's career would become a lasting memory for some.

    Read More »from Wade Redden hangs up his skates after 14 NHL seasons
  • Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

    Getty Images

    • "Rene Rancourt was mauled moments after this photo was taken after The Bear was angered by the anthem singer's shiny vest and bow-tie."

    • After consulting with the NHLPA, the NHL has announced the postponed Sabres-Hurricanes game has been rescheduled for Feb. 25, the final day of the Olympic break and two days after the gold medal game in Sochi. What happens if Sweden meets USA in the gold medal game? Come on down, Matt Hackett! [NHL]

    • The Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, both owned by Josh Harris, are set to become the first U.S.-based professional sports teams to be sponsored by a gambling website as a $10 million deal with partypoker was announced Thursday. Bloomberg]

    • Good times in Edmonton! First, a fan throws his jersey on the ice in disgust, now the GM is getting into shouting matches with fans. [Edmonton Sun]

    • Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel is certainly on the hot seat. If he ends up going, so too should Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and/or Blake Wheeler, writes Gary Lawless. [Winnipeg Free Press]

    • A great read by Craig Morgan on the journey of Jeff Halpern, which has included tragedy. [FS Arizona]

    • Congrats to 1984 Los Angeles Kings draft pick Tom Glavine on making the baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. [Toronto Sun]

    • I'm still trying to figure out what Barry Trotz means here: "Our team has done a lot of good things, we've gone through a lot of difficult situations. Our team is becoming 'Predator Hard', I would say." [On the Forecheck]

    Read More »from Sabres-Canes game rescheduled; Halpern’s hockey journey; Nashville’s ‘Predator hard’ (Puck Headlines)

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