How do the Jets compare to last year after 18 games

Only 18 games in and the season has already had its ups and downs. After a 7-0 loss against the Nashville Preadators it seems like the downs outweigh the ups. Still, there are some positive signs.

It may still be early but nearly one quarter of the season is in the books and the Winnipeg Jets carry an 8-8-2 record compared to a 9-7-2 last year.

Let’s take a look at how the Jets compare to last year at the same point.

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Last season, despite events in the post-season, was a pretty good year.

The Jets went to the playoffs for the second time in franchise history and the first time since the move to Central Canada. They also finished with franchise best goal differential as well as franchise best in 5v5 goal differential and score-adjusted Corsi percentage. The Jets also controlled a greater share of shots than any of the previous Winnipeg Jets teams, including those of the franchise that moved to Arizona.

Suffice to say, the Jets of last year were fairly good at playing hockey. Despite being such a solid team then, the Jets only have one less win than the year prior.

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The Jets have been able to win two more games in regulation, although they lost one more in regulation. Overtime the Jets have lost one as oppose to winning one, and the shootout is essentially a cointoss anyways.

Interestingly enough, the Jets have actually done better in goals.

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For 5v5 situations, the Jets have allowed a few more goals, but have scored nearly twice as many. While overall the numbers are not optimal, it is still better than previous. Even when looking at all minutes the Jets have done better, moving from a -4 goal differential to -1.

Even in the underlying numbers, the Jets have done better. In the first 18 games the Jets controlled 50.0 per cent of 5v5 shot attempts when adjusting for score effects. This season the Jets have controlled 51.7 per cent. Over the last 4 seasons combined, the Winnipeg Jets have only controlled 50.7 percent.

While shot attempts do not garner wins, they do however suggest teams that are able to do the right things to gain the opportunity to shoot. This is why shot attempts predict future goal differentials (and ultimately wins) than past goal and win differentials.

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What this tells us: if the Jets keep controlling the play at the extent that they have been, they should out score their opponents in the future a bit better than they have thus far.

Now, not all is bright. The Jets have struggled significantly with special teams and it has and will hurt them if they do not make dramatic changes.

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In addition, the Jets made significant changes to their team afterwards. Dustin Byfuglien was moved rightfully to the position where he has the best impact. The Jets also picked up some effective depth forwards with Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty.

These changes shifted the Jets. The remainder 68 games the Jets controlled 54 per cent of shot attempts and 55.4 per cent of goals at even strength. Those numbers were ranked second and third in the NHL respectively speaking.

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Jets 2014-15 roling 18 game Score-Adjusted Corsi percentage courtesy of war-on-ice.com

So, the good news is the Jets were a worse even strength team last year at the 18 game point and still made the playoffs. The bad news though is the Jets became a top 3 even strength team for the rest of the year. If the Jets want another shot at the playoffs they will likely have to do the same thing or severely improve their special teams performance and penalty differential.

The Jets do have resources for the growth to come internally. Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan, and Andrew Copp are pro-level rookies and have a steep learning curve. Jacob Trouba, Alexander Burmistrov, and Adam Lowry have all struggled despite having a history of performing well.

It is early. There’s still 64 games to be played. The Jets have had some bumps and their team has some warts but they are still a good team and will still challenge for a playoff spot unless something dramatic occurs.

All numbers are courtesy of war-on-ice.com

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