The Nature of Prey

I have pets that require I keep an army of feeder crickets on hand at all times. While watching my cat literally torture an escapee, thoughts of the nature of prey enter my mind like a puck off the stick of Mark Scheifele might enter the opposing team’s net. This cat is by no means starving. She’s most likely not even hungry. Proof of that is in the torture of the cricket, and not the eating.

She’s been playing with this bug now for the past five minutes. She’ll paw at it, puncturing the exoskeleton, and then pick it up in her mouth crushing it a bit. But anyone who’s ever owned reptile can attest to the toughness of the cricket. Her plaything escapes death for a while, until she decides she’s bored with it, and devours her prey.

There’s nothing strange about this, of course, unless you really think about it. We like to think about animals being purely instinctual and driven by need. But my cat, Static, is not hungry when she torments her prey; she is not driven by need. She is entertaining herself in a twisted way by inflicting pain on an inferior species. She’s driven by want.

This is actually quit disturbing, if put into perspective properly. For example, my dragons are predators too, who also prey on crickets. They are pretty nasty when they feed. But the extent of their hunting is purely need driven.

I have a python, too. Not a top predator in its natural habitat, however, their cousins can rise to the top of the food chain in other ecosystems that weren’t meant to handle them, like what’s happening in Florida. My python will savagely attack its pre-killed prey as if its heart still beats beneath its tiny rib cage by striking at it with lightning speed, and then slowly squeezing the life (well, technically the life is already gone from the rat, but don’t tell the snake that…) out of it before consuming it whole. It’s actually a horrific sight that inspires an adrenaline rush even after a few times witnessing.

The cat is a top predator in the wild (not in the house, mind you), and maybe that’s why Static will play with and torture her prey like a sadist. Perhaps, these other predators need to get the job done as quickly as possible in order to return to their hiding place, so to not suffer the same fate.

The reason why this is so disturbing is two-fold. First, when humans do this to other humans we put them in a box for the rest of their lives (in certain cases, we put them in a doctors office for a few years before unleashing them back into society). Second, the entertainment I get from watching her torture the lower form of life is worrisome. Not in the way that I’m actually worried about the state of my mental health, but worrisome in the way that humanity simply has a twisted, dark side to it.

In hockey, there are teams that are predators, top predators and there are prey teams. The Winnipeg Jets haven’t been a prey team this season, but they also haven’t been a top predator team, either. But they’re close. In the last few weeks they’ve beat San Jose and LA: two teams in the hunt for a playoff position. One might even go so far as to say that the Jets were responsible for ending the hunt for the Sharks. They’ve also beat teams like the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and the Tampa Bay Lightning; all teams that could be described as top predators in the NHL.

The reason why the Jets haven’t yet achieved the status of top predator in the league is because like the dragons, they want to kill and eat their prey as quickly as possible to try to survive an attack from a top predator. They don’t have the prowess, yet, to play with their prey and torture and kill them slowly by inflicting a series of painful, but non-fatal blows. In this scenario, the world the top predator lives in, it’s the build up of pain that kills the prey. Eventually, the body gives up its will to live. The pain becomes so intense that the mind recoils and decides that death, the very thing instinct is around to prevent, becomes a welcomed friend.

Once the Jets get that kind of killer instinct they will win the Stanley Cup. Until then, they will just be one of the predators fighting it out in the arena like ancient gladiators among captured tigers.

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The Playoff Race

The race for the playoffs has never been as tight for the Winnipeg Jets this season as it is right now. The Jets currently sit in the second wild card spot, two points ahead of the Kings and one point back of the Minnesota Wild for top spot.

There are two variables in this race, as I see it. The first is where the Jets finish, and the second is which of the pacific division teams will make it in (or will they both).

The Kings and the Flames have been switching spots for a while now, while the Jets have been firmly planted in first wild card place for most of the season. They just recently dropped out, but are slowly creeping their way back up.

Lately, the Jets have been back on track. There was a slump that, essentially, lasted from the all-star break to about a week ago. But the Jets are among small company in the league for teams that have a few wins in a row or more.

Finally the Jets seem to be trending upward again. There is no doubt in my mind now, especially after defeating the Blues last night, that they have a playoff spot bought and sold. The big question will end up being whether they finish first or second among wild carders. Or will they be able to knock off the hollow, slumping Nashville Predators?

Jets lose again.

The Jets lost to the Florida Panthers tonight in what could end up being the last straw in their playoff chances. As the rats rained down from the ceiling of BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, they also clogged up the engines of these now grounded Jets that look more like by-planes.

Harsh words for a harsh game.

More to come on the dwindling hopes of making the playoffs, but for now I’ll leave you with this link: http://jets.nhl.com/gamecenter/en/boxscore?id=2014021007.

Lee Stempniak and the Jets’ new depth

Kevin Cheveldayoff once again rocked the Jets Nation and the trade world of the NHL today during the Jets/Kings game by trading Carl Klingberg for Lee Stempniak of the New York Rangers.

Stempniak, a 32-year-old right-winger, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 entry draft by the St. Louis Blues. His first NHL season was in ’05-‘06, and he scored 14 goals and 27 points. His best season was the next year, though, when he scored 27 goals and 52 points. In total, Stempniak has played in 690 games and has racked up 359 points. He’s not winning the NHL, but he should make a good addition to the Jets and add to their offensive depth quite nicely.

The way I see it, a team needs size, speed and three lines that can roll evenly, and a solid fourth to take the pressure off when necessary in order to get deep into the playoffs. With this addition, the Jets are looking more like a playoff team on paper.

Here is how the O-lines might look:

Ladd-Little-Wheeler

Tlusty-Scheifele-Frolik

Stempniak-Lowry-Stafford

Thorburn-Slater-Peluso

All of a sudden, thanks to Cheveldayoff working overtime as of late, the depth of the Jets top nine look to be on par with others in playoff positions in the west. However, this recent roster change does beg the question: what happens when Perreault comes back?

Perreault is a natural centre, but has been playing on Scheifele’s wing for the most part. I wonder what would happen if the Jets let Perreault take over the second line centre position, while bumping Scheifele down to the man the third line. This would put Lowry to the forth line, making that line certifiably terrifying to play against. I believe this lineup would be the ultimate way to set it up.

There is another option for Paul Maurice though. He can put Perreault on Scheifele’s wing again, opposite to Frolik, thus bumping Tlusty and Stempniak down. This option works well because we know that Perreault, Scheifele and Frolik work well together already, and also, we saw today that Tlusty and Stafford work well together.

Of course, for this scenario to even have a chance to become a welcomed problem for the Jets, the injured Perreault needs to be cleared to play, and according to Paul Maurice, that might not happen at all. He said post game last week that the Jets would be lucky to get him back in time for the playoffs.

So get well soon Mathieu Perreault, because you just might be the key to playoff success for the Winnipeg Jets this season.