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PlayOFF Beat Behind Enemy Lines- w/ Art Middleton

It’s Playoff Time! I got the chance to catch up with Art Middleton, from JetsNation.Ca, to go over this first round series between our teams. @GameTimeArt is definitely a must follow for this matchup.

Jets finish second after nearly going wire to wire, what led, if anything, to their lackluster play in the second half? Something you guys are concerned about now that the playoffs are here?

A combination of things, of course, led to the second half slump. Their two best defensemen Byfuglien and Morrissey being out certainly hurt. The defense has had issues with zone exits and that’s also partly because forwards haven’t often come back far enough to close the gap on passes needed to be made. It certainly feels like the forwards try to find that perfect play which leads to over-passing of the puck.

Patty Laine I think is being asked to find a good overall game on both sides of the ice which is affecting his offensive play. On top of all of that, there may or may not be issues with team in-fighting and/or the team just outright tuning out head coach Paul Maurice.

They held a 20-minute closed-door team meeting after a brutal loss to the Minnesota Wild in the second last week of the season. Things just haven’t seemed right at all since the end of November and yes, it’s very concerning.

Laine is amazing and the fans here know to watch out for him, who do we may not have on our radar that we should be looking out for?

Laine, to be honest, has actually struggled most of this season which is odd to say about a 30 goal scorer, but a lot of those goals came in the first half of the season. His shot though will always make him dangerous and if he can get going with one or two, he could be a threat.

As for other players? Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler seem to be inseparable (which depending on who you ask can either be fine or is also a point of concern) and when they are “on” they are fun to watch. Kyle Connor has also had himself a great season with 34 goals. As far as depth guys go, you may want to keep an eye on Andrew Copp who really had a nice season despite it being shortened by injury. Copp isn’t as polished as some of the Jets other top six forwards, but he’s grown into a very reliable and consistent performer who can take care of both ends of the ice.

What’s the level of confidence around town and around Jet’s Blogs and the Twitterverse?

Confidence is not very high if we’re being honest. As mentioned there just seems something really off with this club and we might not get a sense of what was wrong until the last game of the season, but for now, they have their two best defensemen back and the team is saying the right things like they are ready to take things to the next level. That all said, hope is still there for Jets fans. There have been glimpses of this team when it’s really good (the 5-1 dismantling of Nashville a few weeks ago felt very much like the Jets we expected to see all season) and while it feels unlikely that they find the proverbial “switch” to play better and more consistent hockey, many of us are hoping one does in fact exist.

Any other Playoff series interest you guys over at JetsNation.CA?

Obviously, the Nashville / Dallas series will be worth keeping an eye on. In some ways, there are a lot of Jets fans who liked a matchup better with the Blues than they did with the Stars. Being Canadian we’ll also keep an eye on the Calgary and Toronto series’ as well. There was at least a little bit of bragging rights being the last Canadian team standing last year and it would be nice to see the Jets out-last the Flames and Leafs this year even if it doesn’t lead to a Cup

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