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Winnipeg, MB • Canada • 24 Years Old • Male

The Winnipeg Jets are a relatively talented hockey team. Their top six forwards have as much finishing talent as any team in the NHL with Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Kyle Connor. They have the dominant pairing of Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry who can virtually shut down opponents and even create some offence regardless of who the right winger is on that line. The fourth line has struggled this year, although it has very much improved since the acquisition of Nick Shore, who appears to be a real keeper. The Jets have a solid group of forwards. The defence corps is a completely different story.

Josh Morrissey, while I still think he's a very good player, has been completely ineffective compared to previous seasons. Tucker Poolman is doing what he can but he is overmatched against top competition. Neal Pionk has been the one bright spot this year. Past that they have a large group of replacement level to well below replacement level defencemen in Kulikov, Beaulieu, Sbisa, Bitetto, and Dahlstrom.

The Jets currently have a solid record of 20-13-2. People cite reasons for this as them playing a "team game" and "sticking to their identity". These are simply narratives that don't exist if they're not winning games. The fact of the matter is, the Jets, as they are right now, are a below average team that has been getting very good goaltending, which is shown to be not nearly as sustainable a way of winning games as outshooting and outchancing other teams, and some luck in the way of their standings points outperforming their goal differential.

Connor Hellebuyck, to put it simply, has been stellar. It's impossible to tell the tale of the Jets' season thus far without talking about Hellebuyck. He is currently 7th among all goalies who have played this season and 2nd among goalies who have played 20 or more games this season in save percentage above expected. The Jets currently hold the 9th best team save percentage in the NHL at 91.37%, which is down quite a bit from five games ago. The Jets also hold the 9th best team shooting percentage at 9.77%. This adds up to a PDO (shooting percentage + save percentage) of 101.14. It is known that as a sample becomes larger, PDO regresses toward the mean (100.00). We have already seen the Jets' PDO regress a bit over the last number of games.

The Jets have picked up 42 out of a possible 70 points in the standings for a very solid points percentage of 60.00%. Their goals for percentage is just 50.97%, so they have been lucky in terms of when goals have gone in. They've come out on the positive end of a lot of one goal games, and it's unreasonable to expect they'll continue to do that at the rate they are now. These things show that the Jets record is not a good indicator of how they're playing. Just how poorly are they playing though?

As per evolving-hockey.com, the Jets currently sit at 31st in score and venue adjusted expected goals share at 43.83%. They sit at 23rd in score and venue adjusted corsi for percentage (shot share) at 48.63%. People often talk about how the Jets are poor defensively, and yes, they do have an issue with the quality of shots they've given up, but a bigger issue is the lack of offence they've generated. While the Jets give up the 3rd most expected goals against in the NHL, they also generate the least in the NHL. People look at their record and assume they're playing well, but in reality, if they got average goaltending all season long instead of Vezina-calibre goaltending, and they didn't squeak out some of those one goal games, we might already we talking about the 2020 draft. The thing is though, the talent of the team likely isn't the biggest issue here.

The Jets are purposefully running a passive system despite having one of the best finishing teams and great goaltending. The Jets simply aren't a team that should be running that kind of system. The Jets generally keep the 3rd forward who enters the zone high so they have more of a defensive conscience. There are huge issues with this. Mathematically, the greater the number of shots in a game between two teams, the greater the chance the better shooting team, and the better goaltending team has. I would venture to guess that there aren't many teams that are better than the Jets in both.

The Jets ran a high tempo in a small section of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes and in half the game against the Chicago Blackhawks. While the Jets were doing that, they were getting some good results. Unfortunately, Nathan Beaulieu made an ill-advised pinch that lead to a goal against against the Hurricanes, and in the Blackhawks game they gave up an early goal against in the 3rd period, and on both occasions the Jets' coaching staff seemingly blamed the goals against on the higher tempo, and reverted back to playing their passive system (which is especially silly when down two goals).

The Jets, as they stand at the moment, are a talented, but flawed hockey team who are playing a system that does not fit their team. They currently sit with a solid record with an okay goal differential, so it's understandable that people would think just looking on the surface that the team is playing fine. Unfortunately there are big issues here, and based on what's happened in the last two games, it seems highly unlikely they will be fixed under the current coaching staff.

Bryan Johnston
Filed Under:   Statistics   Winnipeg Jets   Coaching  
January 7, 2020 6:47 AM ET | Delete
Bravo Bryan for articulating what I have been thinking for a very long time. As long as the current management team remains as is, insanity will prevail in Winnipeg - doing the same thing and expecting a different result. In 22 years of coaching, Maurice has only one eastern conference championship to show for his efforts despite having had multiple iterations of players over that span. He talks a good game but does not coach one, especially in the playoffs. And his insistence on playing veterans will forever hold this team back. Would Tanev and Chiarot not look better in a Jets uniform than having kept Perreault and Kulikov? And it would have saved the organization 1.5m. And for Chevy to overpay veterans in their thirties with five-year extentions while giving up two first round draft picks for an ill-timed and advised run at the cup is self-destructive for a draft and develop team. The cupboard is virtually bare and there are no reinforcements on the horizon. Sorry Jets fans, but as long as Chevy and the current coaching staff remain intact, you will be teased, but you will be denied a real shot at a Stanley Cup. The organization would be better served having a president of hockey operations to oversee this franchise. Not someone from within, but from the outside to provide a non boys club perspective. Management has drafted well but has been too loyal to a fault. Again Bryan, well said! I look forward to your next dissection ☺
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