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By The Numbers: The Jets’ biggest need moving forward

Earlier, Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun put out an article on the Winnipeg Jets after their calling up of Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic based on some comments given by Paul Maurice.

The article and Maurice’s comments could be summarized a long the lines: sure Connor and Roslovic have skill and can score but Jets need grit and defense. It’s not just Maurice and Friesen; there are quite a few who feel this way.

I understand the underlying reason for this thinking, but I disagree with the outcomes from this thought process. So, without further ado, let’s eviscerate the Jets results.

Specifically: The Winnipeg Jets

I get it. I really do.

The Jets currently reside in 8th for goals generated per game, but they slide to 28th in goals against per game.

“DEFENSE!”

Not so fast. I want to point out that there are multiple factors at play here. The Jets indeed struggle with goal suppression more than goal creation, but there are many variables that account for a team’s goals against total.

Essentially there are three major factors that impact a team’s goals against: the number of shots you allow, the quality of shots you allow, and your goaltenders ability to stop them.

Even Strength (5v5)

We see here that the Jets sit 28th in goals against relative to ice time; that’s bad.

However, the Jets allow the 12th fewest number of shots against (Fenwick includes goals, saves, and misses, but not blocks). Using shot distance, angle, handedness of shooter, and the amount of time and location between the shot and the previous event, we estimate the Jets should expect the 16th best Fenwick save percentage (save percentage including missed shots), if all teams had equal goaltending…

…but they don’t. The Jets’ goaltending stops so few shots that they sit 29th in actual Fenwick save percentage.

Basically, the Jets are the 11th best team in 5v5 goals for per minute and would be estimated around league average in goals against prior to including goaltending, but goaltending ends up pulling them down to near the league’s bottom.

Special Teams

Above are the Jets defensive numbers on the penalty kill. We see a similar pattern here, except the Jets are slightly worse in shot prevention on the penalty kill than they are at even strength.

What makes all this worse is the fact that the Jets are also a heavily penalized team. Their penchant for penalties causes them to carry the 29th worst penalty differential.

Average penalty killing skater performance, bottom-barrel shorthanded goaltending, and a penchant for penalties causes the Jets to allow the fourth most shorthanded goals against.

Bring It All Together

In summation, the Jets need to drop their goals against totals down, but it appears the big issue lays in their goaltenders not making as many saves as they should, all other things considered.

Another factor to keep in mind is score-effects. A team with poor performing goaltending trails early and often. This will cause coaches to heavily lean on their offensive talents while those offensive talents risk more than they typically would. A chasing team may get penalized more and take larger risks on the kill as well.

It’s not the lack of defensive skill of their forwards, nor their blue-line group being “overly offensive minded.” It starts and ends in net with the Jets.

Now, nothing is perfect. The Jets could indeed use more shot repression. The Jets could also use better preventing quality chances against. But, the Jets could also use a lot more goalscoring too. (They probably could have also used a lot better health on their top players)

All numbers provided by Corsica.hockey unless otherwise stated.


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  • FishWhiskey

    I still see the Jets defensive system being a goalie killer. The emphasis on plugging shooting lanes and blocking shots turns D-men into pylons. This means the shots getting to the goalie are often screened or tipped by their own d-man or because the d-men are not removing time and space from opposing shooters then the opposition are often able to set up high quality scoring chances off the cycle if a Jets d-man is caught out of position. The Jets penalty kill is an illustration of this in a microcosm. I can’t help but wonder if even Cary Price would be reduced to a gibbering sieve after a couple of months backstopping a Jets defensive system? Any thoughts?