With last night’s 1-0 win over the Canucks, the Jets closed out their home first half before the All-Star break so we can now take a look back at what that first half brought us.
When you hear the nickname “The Friendly Confines”, most people envision the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field, the historic home of the Chicago Cubs. Well, another venue has proven equally friendly, and is fittingly located in “Friendly Manitoba”.
Bell MTS Place (Formerly known as MTS Centre; which I liked much better, for the record) has seemingly been a happy place for both hockey teams and fans alike this season. The Jets sport a shiny 17-3-1 record through 21 games, but a decent home record isn’t unheard of, considering they’ve posted winning home records in all but one season since returning to Winnipeg (2015-16: 18-19-4).
But what has lead to the second best home record in the NHL?
Well for starters, they score. A lot. In all situations, the Jets sit in third in home goals for with 83, and seventh in goals for at 5v5. What helps that along is the Jets league leading home shooting percentage, which is currently 10.04% at 5v5. Another helpful piece is the success on the powerplay, which has the Jets sitting just under 33% at home, and that’s good enough for tops in the league, while also sitting second in home powerplay goals for with 25.
We’ve seen these tweets a lot, with different names of course.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) January 7, 2018
Keeping with the special teams, the penalty kill hasn’t been too shabby either. The Jets continue this top ten theme, by sitting with the eighth fewest goals against on the PK. What has also helped this, is a fantastic trend of taking fewer penalties than what they have in the past seasons. The Jets are on pace to take nearly 20 fewer penalties at home than they did last season, which is a very welcome trend to those of us who hate the Jets taking a bunch of penalties.
Lets talk about some goaltending, shall we?
With a 24-6-0 record, Connor Hellebuyck has every reason to smile. 😁 pic.twitter.com/bnTqimfljZ
— NHL (@NHL) January 22, 2018
This guy has been really solid at home this year, posting 17 wins, which leads the league in that department, while also carrying a 2.06 GAA and a .931 SV%. In general, Hellebuyck posted his 25th win in only his 39th game this season in the 1-0 win against Vancouver, which shattered the WPG/ATL record of 25 wins in 49 games set by Kari Lehtonen in 2006-07.
Not to undermine this, but the defense has done a pretty solid job at limiting quality chances in front of their goalies. At home, the Jets have allowed only 143 High Danger Chances Against (HDCA) at 5v5, which sits fourth among all teams. Overall, the Jets sit second in the league at 5v5 HDCA, giving up 331.
Now, an Ode to the Venue
I want to take this away from the direct play of the Jets, and turn my attention to the venue itself. As someone who has been attending hockey games in this building since it’s opening in 2004, I have been witness to its evolution into an NHL building. From being the home of the Manitoba Moose for eight seasons, to becoming the beloved Hangar that houses our Jets, the 15,294 seats that fill the arena have seen a lot. Many memories come to mind, such as the 2008-09 Manitoba Moose Calder Cup run, or more recently, the whiteout in 2015.
Over the last seven years, the Bell MTS Place, MTS Centre, or whatever you call it, has proven to be one of the loudest buildings in the NHL, and has created one of the most entertaining and unique viewing experiences. Especially in the last few years (JumboTron, seating, and concourse upgrades), we’ve seen the building create a true NHL atmosphere. Who cares if it has the lowest seating capacity in the league? It’s about the experience, right? Well, on the topic of experience, what’s a Jets game without some of the absurd food options they’ve added to the menu in the recent years. Sure, it can get pricey, but some of those meals (yes, I’m calling them meals because that suits them best) are absolutely worth the price. Nothing like a Jumbo Jet dog, or the insanity that is the Hercules Sandwich. What’s the Hercules? Well, its a fried chicken breast and two slices of bacon on two waffle buns, slathered in a maple spread. The epitome of health, I’m sure. You can certainly find some lighter fair if you’d prefer.
All these little things aside, this raucous arena in the heart of Downtown Winnipeg has evolved into a true NHL venue.
Whether it’s this year’s success that makes this building more attractive, or the overall experience and evolution that has taken place there, the Bell MTS Place (or MTS Centre for that matter) holds a place in most Winnipeggers’ hearts.