The Jets have been winning and it feels like the team has finally turned the page from the past two seasons. Their early success has given the team a record of 11-4-3 and 2nd in the Central Division. People are starting to whisper the playoff word again and they should be excited.
The Jets finally are getting good goaltending; Connor Hellebuyck has taken a significant step forward and the results are showing. They are getting elite scoring and their young players will continue to improve.
Yet, there’s still an inevitable “but” when talking about how the Jets are doing. Something still does not seem right to the team.
That is because they are playing with fire.
The Jets have been outshot 12 out of the past 18 games. That is not Corsi, not fancy stats. That is shots plain and simple. The team has not been able to provide sustained offensive zone pressure that reduces shots against.
The penalty kill has not looked pretty for the Jets. They currently sit 18th at a rate of 79.7%. The “collapse to the net and hope a shot does not get through” method of defense has not shown to be overly successful. Not only does this method allow the other team a greater chance to get set up in the Jets’ end, players are more likely to get hurt from blocking shots.
The good news is the Jets are already decent at not allowing shots to get through from right in front of the net. The bad news is there are a high amount of shots getting through from the slot in 5v5 situations.
In 5v5 situations, the Jets are not getting a lot of close shots through to the net. Which start raising questions about how sustainable the offence is.
The Jets have been carried offensively by Scheifele and Wheeler thus far, which is good to see because they are elite players. However, past some support from Ehlers and Laine, the support from the rest of the team has been underwhelming.
More support for the Jets’ top players will be need if the Jets are expected to keep having a successful season.
Despite the negative tone of this article, there are lots of reasons to be excited about the Jets. They have a decent powerplay this season; it currently sits in eighth with a success rate of 21.9%.
Despite some hiccups from Steve Mason in net, the Jets are ranked seventh in goaltending save percentage at 91.9%.
For the most part, the Jets have the personnel that will allow them to improve. The tweaks needed to improve their game are not massive system overhauls and can easily be done mid-season. One tweak could be on working harder to get shots through closer to the net. If you refer to the heat map above, you will notice the lack of shots getting through to the opponent’s net from in tight.
The younger players will only continue to get better. Laine, Ehlers, Trouba, Scheifele aren’t in their primes yet and are still developing, which will happen before our eyes this season.
If the Jets do regress, the early season success will help the team in the long run and allow fans to be excited about the fact that the Jets can easily make the playoffs.
There’s some work to do, but the Jets can turn this season from being a false positive to an outright positive.
(All stats taken from corsica.hockey and charts from hockeyviz.com. Stats are as of November 17.)