We've done just about as much previewing of Winnipeg as we can, but it's time to take a look at what someone who follows them day in, day out has to say. So without further ado, here's my Q&A with one of the Staff Editors at SBN's Winnipeg Jets blog, Arctic Ice Hockey, Ryan Blight (Arby_18 on AIH and on twitter).
Q: Ondrej Pavelec has been much better this year, posting a .920 save percentage as compared to .901, .905 and .906 in the last three years respectively. Not to mention, he hasn't given up a goal in his last three games. What has he done differently and how confident are you that he can continue playing this well in the playoffs?
A: Ondrej Pavelec has had one of the strangest seasons that I can recall for a starting goaltender. A decent start for him wasn't enough to keep him from a "goalie rotation" with rookie Michael Hutchinson, but that eventual led to Hutch taking the reins and Pavelec riding the pine for weeks. However, after the All-Star Break we saw Hutch struggle, and when Pavelec got back in he let in that horrific goal to Jackman in St. Louis. Many thought we'd seen the last of Pavelec, but he came back and rode an incredible hot-streak down the stretch when it was needed and led the team to the playoffs. What has he done differently? No idea. Perhaps he was well rested for the stretch drive instead of being overplayed over the years? Regardless, he was stellar down the stretch and is one of the hottest goalies (alongside the Hamburger in Ottawa) heading into the playoffs. Surprising to many, that's for sure.
Q: For most of the season, we Ducks fans were hearing all kinds of rumors about a trade for Tyler Myers to bolster our defense. Ironically, now we have to face him in the first round. What has he brought to the Winnipeg defense?
A: Tyler Myers has been incredible. Personally, I was hesitant at what basically was a switch of Myers for Zach Bogosian, as we'd all seen how bad Myers was in Buffalo. But clearly, that was a product of the situation, as Myers has stepped in and has been a force on the backend. The 6'8 giant has more than fit in, and has bolstered what could be the strongest right-side of any blueline in the league, joining Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba. If I was the Ducks, I'd be dumping it in to the other side and hammering Toby Enstrom, but what do I know? But yeah, Myers could be a pillar for the Jets for a long time, as the former Calder winner has clearly been rejuvenated after escaping Buffalo.
Q: In your opinion, who has been the Jets' MVP of the season and who is an unsung hero to watch out for in this series?
A: The MVP of the Jets this season in my opinion has been Blake Wheeler, as he's emerged into a premier winger. He led the team in goals, but perhaps most importantly was a threat in nearly every game he played. The line of Wheeler with Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford has filled the net down the stretch, and Wheeler is the engine that makes that second line go. The unsung hero though is somebody that Ducks fans may be familiar with, as Matthieu Perreault came in as an unheralded UFA signing and emerged as a major part of why the Jets are so improved this year. He's played up and down the lineup, was a possession monster, has looked great on the wing since shifting offer, and also injected some much needed talent to the power play. Perreault won the award for most appearances in the 3-Stars this season, which was made even more impressive due to the fact that he missed many weeks due to injury. The Ducks depth last summer was very much the Jets gain, as Matty P. could very well have been the best UFA signing of the past summer.
Thanks to Ryan for his help, and good luck in the series.... But not too good.