Playoffs are closing in and just 5 teams have clinched a spot. The fourth team to do so was the Winnipeg Jets. Let’s jump in to the Jets season.
The Winnipeg Jets came so close to the Cup, last season, when they lost in the Conference Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights. This team is stuck in a perpetual state of being good enough to make playoffs but not good enough to last.
The Winnipeg Jets started the season with a record of 6-3-1 in their first 10 games. The team put up 31 goals (9 PP, 1 short-handed) for while allowing 28 against (6 PP goals and 0 short-handed). It’s a great place to start the season off with and it had so much emotion coming off the late exit from playoffs. They we’re controlling the puck and limiting their opponents chances at scoring.
Let’s move to the halfway point in the season. In the first 41 games, the Jets were 26-13-2 with 139 goals for (35 PP, 4 short-handed) and 116 against (23 PP, 2 short handed). That’s a +23 goal differential half way in. The team was buzzing, holding onto a playoff spot and a chance at redemption. They were still maintaining control and not letting the other teams get a major advantage on the ice. Things started to slip away from them as time went on.
Now the Jets are 75 games in, with a 45-26-4 record. The team has 254 goals for (59 PP, 9 short-handed) with 218 goals against (46 PP, 7 short-handed), a +31 goal differential. The problem is in their play on the ice, the puck tends to slip away at bad times costing them largely.
Captain Blake Wheeler has been a constant for his team the past 8 seasons that he’s been Winnipeg. Wheeler puts up big points and has missed only 6 games over the course of 8 years. This season alone, Wheeler has put up 20 goals, 68 assists for a total of 88 points, in 74 games. Wheeler averages 19:41 on the ice every night. Wheeler’s 6’5″ and 225 lbs stature is recognizable from the nosebleeds with his speed and puck skill. For a tall guy, he knows how to move and create plays which has put him and his team in playoff contention.
Before his injury, Dustin Byfuglien was a core piece of this Jet’s team. Byfuglien was injured back in late December and missed the whole month of January. He returned February 7th but only played 5 games before being placed on the IR again with an ankle injury. Byfuglien is expected to return in early April but his absence from the team has been notable. Byfuglien is a burly defender at 6’5″ and a whopping 260 lbs of muscle. He’s been known to throw anyone down and also intimidate his opponents. With Byfuglien back in the line-up the Jets will have that little extra “ump” they’ve been missing.
Patrik Laine hasn’t been on the tear he’s usually at this far into the season. He started hot which has kept him where he is but he is currently on a 11 game goal drought. In the 2019 calendar year, Laine has played in 36 games with only 5 goals and 12 assists with a -7 rating and 92 shots on goal.
What To Watch
This team has an efficient power play. Their at a 25.3% conversion rate, which is about 6% above the league average. Their penalty kill is average at 79.7% but it can still be lethal with the right players on the ice.
This team is stacked as well, only one player is under 6’0″ and 15 of their 26 player roster are over 200 lbs. They bring a big physical game and have players that know how to use their size to their advantage: Byfuglien, Nathan Beaulieu, Mark Scheifele, or Kevin Hayes.
I see more another second round exit for this team. They haven’t fully clicked this year and seem a bit disorganized when faced with teams like the Lightning (1-1-0) and Calgary (1-2-0).
First To Clinch: Tampa Bay Lightning
Second To Clinch: Calgary Flames
Third To Clinch: San Jose Sharks
Fourth To Clinch: Winnipeg Jets
Fifth To Clinch: Boston Bruins
Sixth To Clinch: Nashville Predators
Featured Image: NHL.com Stats from Hockey Reference