This is part 2 of the X-Factors: How the Winnipeg Jets Can Win the Playoffs. In the first part of the series, Kyle Connor was determined to be a player that could help win the first round matchup against the Minnesota Wild. Part 2 will analyze another Winnipeg Jet to see how he can specifically influence the series.
Each player has a different role on the team and all of these roles need to be in sync in order to succeed. While Connor’s role is to score goals, the 2nd Winnipeg Jets X-Factor has an entirely different set of skills.
Josh Morrissey is the most durable Winnipeg Jets defenseman (as demonstrated over the last two seasons) missing only one game since the start of the 2016-2017 season. The sole game that he missed was last week, when he was selected by Paul Maurice to rest instead of play against the Montreal Canadiens. Only Dustin Byfuglien comes close to Morrissey’s mark of 163 games, when looking at the number of games played over the last two seasons. Byfuglien has played 149 games in the last two years while Ben Chiarot and Jacob Trouba have played 116 and 115 games respectively during that same span. Morrissey has been a steady defender since his first season in the league and will continue to be a key contributor for the playoffs.
When looking at the games against the Minnesota Wild this year, Morrissey’s numbers alone don’t inspire much confidence. Averaging 18 minutes per game against Minnesota, Morrissey’s tally is one assist, two penalty minutes and one shot on goal.
Along with these paltry boxscore numbers, Morrissey only has a CF% of 48.9%, meaning the Jets have been slightly out-shot while Morrissey is on the ice. This Corsi number can be misleading because Morrissey has been above the benchmark of 50% in three out of the four games against the Wild. The worst game Morrissey had was on October 31, where he ended the night with a horrendous CF% of 32.3%.
When looking at Morrissey’s contributions in the 51 games Winnipeg has won this year, he has 5 goals and 15 assists totaling 20 points. In contrast, during the 20 regulation losses this year, Morrissey has 0 goals and 1 assist. It is evident that when the Jets are losing games, Morrissey is not contributing. Based on these hard numbers, Morrissey has clearly not played to his full potential against Minnesota.
It might seem strange that a player with mediocre stats has been selected as an X-Factor candidate. However, Josh Morrissey will be the most important piece of the defensemen puzzle during the playoffs. Due to his history of durability, he will be expected to play heavy minutes under all circumstances.
The Jets especially need Morrissey to fill the defensive deficiency on the left side of the blue line. The Jets’ defense has been debilitated with injuries, including Kulikov who is currently out with a back injury and Enstrom who will be just returning from injury for Game One of the playoffs. With these injuries, the role of a reliable defenseman like Morrissey will be magnified. Morrissey will have to step up his game to outplay Minnesota’s Eric Staal, the dangerous forward who has had a resurgence of youth this season by scoring 40 goals for the first time in ten years.
Morrissey is the best hope for the defensive lines with his dependable playing style. Though his numbers aren’t outstanding, Morrissey will be a workhorse on the blue line that will keep the Jets in the running for a series win over Minnesota.