The first month of the year is over for the Jets as they are off to Finland for the NHL Global Series. In this mini series we will examine the Jets play from October and see how the team performed. Today’s main focus is the offensive play.
Most fans would agree that the Jets struggled at times during the month of October. Despite finishing with a respectable 7-4-1 record, it appears the Jets aren’t quite living up to the mighty expectations heaped on them from all corners of the nation.
As far as the offense is concerned, the Jets had a below average month, especially given the amount of skill they have. They finished the month with 2.92 goals per game which ranks 21st in the league. What is interesting to note however, is the distribution of the goals. The Jets scored nine goals in the first period, seven goals in the second, and a whopping eighteen goals in the third period.
While the idea that the Jets are able to score in the final frame sounds great at first, there’s a catch. There has been a few games so far that the Jets found themselves down by a wide margin heading into the third period. Being down gives them extra motivation to score to try and come back in the game. Also, the team that is ahead in the game usually draws back into a defensive shell in the third period to try and defend the lead. So while the goal totals in the third period sound good, it’s might be a product of being down and needing to make a comeback.
This type of third period was apparent when the Jets came back against the Blues on Oct. 22 and the Leafs on Oct. 24.
As stated above, the Jets are ranked 21st in the league in goal scoring, but the early stats can be misleading due to small sample sizes. Let’s take a look at the shots and shot attempts to see if the Jets are perhaps getting unlucky or if they are actually struggling to generate chances.
As you can see, the Jets are almost exactly in the centre of this graph. This means the Jets are roughly in the middle of the league in the amount of shots for as well as shots against. If the Jets aren’t getting a large number of shots, the hope would be that the shots they take are more dangerous to make up for the lack of opportunity.
Unfortunately, the Jets don’t seem to have a very dangerous attack either. They do a great job of generating shots from the right side, likely due to the fact that they have strong right handed defensemen to carry the play. Apart from the right side of the ice, they aren’t getting the puck to the most dangerous areas. If you are the type of person to not trust graphs, sometimes numbers can also help.
The Jets are 25th in the NHL in expected goals at five on five (courtesy of Corsica) as they are only expected to score 2.11 goals per sixty minutes. Once again, this doesn’t sound impressive, but there might a bit of bad luck going the Jets way. The Jets aren’t generating tons of shots, but when they do, they can’t find the back of the net. The Jets are currently shooting only 6.08% at five on five, which puts them 28th in the league. Natural Stat Trick breaks out the shooting percentage on scoring chances as well and the Jets are 22nd in shooting percentage on their high danger scoring chances.
@NHLJets are shooting at about 6% right now. I can’t wait until they get a few bounces and shoot at 15% over a few games and everyone says they’re fixed even though they’re playing similarly.
— Winston Bellbottom (@Wbellbottom) October 27, 2018
Even though the Jets are having difficulty at even strength it could be argued that the their strong special teams can make up for a lack of five on five offense.
The Jets are steamrolling opposition on the powerplay with a 31.4% conversion rate, good for third in the league. They are getting it done with a few wrinkles in their setup as well.
The Jets have done a great job at generating shots from the most dangerous areas on the ice. All three of Scheifele, Connor, and Laine have three powerplay goals so far. While last year the Jets were just letting Laine blast it from the circle, they have added a dangerous back-door option for Connor at the edge of the crease.
This slight change is dangerous, especially when teams over-commit to covering the Laine one-timer. It’s these types of changes that keep the powerplay fresh throughout the course of the year. Compare this year’s chart (above) with last year’s (below) to see how the Jets have committed to running their powerplay this season.
The last thing to discuss about the Jets offensive game is the individual player performances.
There hasn’t been too many surprises for the Jets so far. Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele lead the way with six goals apiece. Connor is showing that he isn’t taking his spot for granted as he continues his great start to his young career. Adam Lowry has been pleasantly surprising as well with four goals through twelve games. Josh Morrissey has also played phenomenal offensively, even quarterbacking the powerplay when Byfuglien was injured last week. Something tells me Morrissey is in for an awful large raise after his bridge deal is done…
Perhaps the biggest letdown so far has been Blake Wheeler. Normally a workhorse on offense, Wheeler has been a shell of his former self through the early going this season. The numbers still look good as he has two goals and nine assists, but the eye test shows that something is definitely going on with Wheeler. Is it a nagging injury, or a problem between the ears? Whatever the case may be, Wheeler needs to pick up his game because it just seems a little bit off.
Talking about letdowns, Patrik Laine has had a tough start to the season. He only has three goals to start the year despite leading the team in shots. My best guess is that Laine’s shooting percentage will jump back to his previous norm as he is only scoring on 6.8% of his shots, well below his career average of 17%.
There you have it, a synopsis on the month of October in regards to the Winnipeg Jets’ offense. Stay tuned in the coming days for pieces breaking down the defensive play and goaltending. Let us know your thoughts. Are the Jets getting unlucky? Just not playing well? We want to hear from you!