2015 Stanley Cup playoffs: Winnipeg Jets vs. Anaheim – Round one preview

It is the eye of the storm for fans devoted to the Winnipeg Jets. The celebrations for the Jets very first playoff excursion since the move have all but settled. For some, this is their first time. For others this is just the first time in a long time.

The playoffs are far more familiar territory for the Anaheim Ducks, with only missing twice since the last lockout-cancelled season. Situations may look familiar to some Duck fans, but there are some significant changes this year and the Ducks are hoping these push them past their second round roadblock.

Let’s take a deeper look into this series after the jump.

Season Series

With the Jets crossing over the the Pacific Division from the second wild-card slot, the match up ends up being one without much history.

The former Mickey Mouse organization has effectively handled central prairie team. The Ducks have swept their season series against the Jets, winning one each in regulation, overtime, and shootout. They also carried a fairly significant edge on the scoreboard. This year the Ducks have scored twelve goals on the Jets, while the Jets have only returned eight of their own.

Anaheim’s offense –like usual– extends predominately through Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf carries into the playoffs five points in three games against the Jets, although Rickard Rackall has orchestrated the most damage with six points. The Jets carry some offensive weapons themselves, with Mathieu Perreault, Andrew Ladd, and Dustin Byfuglien who all sit at a point per game pace against the Ducks.

Looking exclusively at 5-on-5 even strength minutes, the Jets have actually been the better performing team. The Jets have controlled 55.2 per cent of shot attempts. The Jets have even outscored the Ducks when looking exclusively at 5-on-5. 

Even Strength (5-on-5)

When it comes to even strength performance, the Jets are among the league’s elite. The Jets have posted top-level numbers with a 53.5 Corsi percentage and +22 goal differential over the season. Meanwhile, the Ducks sit at 51.3 and +9 in both statistics.

Neither team has overly benefited from extreme or unsustainable percentages, although one could argue the Jets goaltending have relatively over-performed.

Getzlaf remains the most dangerous player in finishing talent between both teams forward. Getzlaf has always been an elite 5-on-5 point producer, and this season’s 2.59 points per sixty minutes is no exception.

Both teams have made impressive late season additions. The Jets replaced Zach Bogosian, Matt Halsichuk, an injured Evander Kane, and Anthony Peluso with Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Lee Stempniak, and Jiri Tlusty. The Ducks meanwhile bolstered their blueline with James Wisniewski and Simon Depres, while also adding depth in Korbian Holzer, Michael Sgarbossa, and Jiri Sekac.

Shot metrics peak in the 20 to 30 game range in terms of predictive abilities, mostly due to the flow of NHL rosters from trades, injuries and call ups.

Final 25 games Corsi percentage gives the Jets a slight advantage at 53.5, the second highest rating of teams that made it into the playoffs. Anaheim sits only a bit further back at 52.3 and seventh in teams that made it into the playoffs.

As always, goaltending plays the role of the highly unpredictable game changer. Ondrej Pavelec comes into the playoffs on one of the greatest hot streaks of his career, pushing his season numbers to a personal best. Still, combining the last two seasons combined the four goaltenders rank Michael Hutchinson (93.24), Frederik Andersen (92.99), Pavelec (92.49), and John Gibson (92.45) in terms of 5-on-5, shot-location-adjusted save percentage.

Special Teams

The Ducks power play has suffered with the loss of specialists like Teemu Selanne. The Ducks this season carried below average performances in both their 15.7 PP% and 5.7 goals per sixty minutes. The Jets have been far from exceptional as well but have still the better team with scoring on 17.8 percent of power play opportunities and 6.4 goals per sixty minutes.

The Jets hope that the return of Byfuglien and Perreault to full health will give their team an extra injection they need on the power play, although the Ducks hope for the same thing from Wisniewski.

Winnipeg has also outperformed Anaheim in the penalty kill, although the gap is much closer. The Jets kill penalties at a 81.8 percent efficiency and only allow 6.5 goals against per sixty minutes. Their Pacific Division opponent posted 81.0 percent and 6.9 goals against in the same metrics.

The Ducks do gain an advantage in special teams from playing the slightly more disciplined game between the two. The playoffs may level the playing field somewhat, but the Jets held a poor -47 penalty differential while the Ducks were much better at -36.

Prediction

Overall the teams are fairly close in almost every detail except their performance in one-goal games. The Ducks historic performance in these situations has often been the centre of debate, with how much is skill, environment, or natural variance.

The Ducks have a lot of skill with arguably the best scoring centre in the entire Western Conference. The Jets though are a big and fast team that likes to play aggressive. Even if you beat them, they will hurt you and your chances to beat them again next time.

It should be a fun series to watch for all hockey fans.

I call Jets in six, although I am biased.

All numbers are 5v5, score-adjusted and from War-On-Ice unless otherwise stated.