0
Photo Credit: © James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets Day After: It Was “The Bounces”

“The bounces didn’t go our way tonight”

High on my list of “sports cliches that need to die” is that one because it’s an awful cop out and one that excuses a team and players from any personal responsibility. We heard a variant of that phrase when Connor Hellebuyck tried to explain away his awful game in New York against the Rangers when he explained that he actually liked his game, but it was the bad bounces in front of him that gave him issues.

And now we heard it again last night from a couple of different Jets after their 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Well shucks, it’s those darn “bounces” that keep preventing the Jets from winning hockey games huh? The Jets are fine, they just need to play a game without bad bounces.

That’s news to me because I can think of a few other aspects of their game that led to a 7-2 drubbing.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Goaltending

Let’s get this one out of the way right away because it’s the most obvious. Laurent Brossoit was not good at all last night. A .750 save percentage and six of the seven goals were scored on Brossoit’s glove side including two plays right beside his net where the Penguins obviously had a game plan to get Brossoit moving to his right knowing that quick puck movement would leave the left side – that glove side – even more open.

The heat map from the game reveals that the Penguins may have figured Brossoit out.

Courtesy: NaturalStatTrick.com

Add one more in that blue zone to the left of the Jets net for the power play goal they scored in the second period. There is a very obvious pattern.

Special teams

As of this morning, the Jets are ranked 27th in the league on the penalty kill with a little over a 69% kill rate. The alarming part about that is that the Jets are a good two to three minutes lower in penalty minutes per game (an even four minutes) which given how this team has had penalty issues in the past is a great stat and one we should be thankful for (especially on a day like today) given how poor the PK has been. The league average is about double what the Jets have averaged, so you can imagine how much worse it would be if the Jets gave up two or three more short handed chances per game.

The Jets power play is 22nd in the league which is bad enough, but the short handed chances against are very alarming. The Jets have given up as many goals against while on the power play as they have scored and while both the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins each scored short handed goals against the Jets this past weekend, it could have been more.

Giving them the net

Look back up at that heat map and you’ll note the dark blue area around the net. This too has been a trend of many Jets games this season where they have given up all kinds of scoring chances in and around the net area.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Jets actually out-shot the Penguins in the game and 5v5 scoring chances in the game were also in favor of Winnipeg 15-13, but that’s a bit misleading. Even strength high danger scoring chances – shots taken in and around the net and ‘slot’ area in front of the net – were listed at 6-4 for the Penguins and taking into account the entire game, special teams and all, that number balloons up to 12-5.

It’s not just that the Jets are giving up shots, all teams do that. It’s where they are giving up shots that is the biggest issue.

Were the “bad bounces” really bad bounces?

Going back to the whole bounces thing, the reason I hate that as a dismissal of just bad luck against a team is the notion that these things happen and there is nothing the Jets can do to stop it.

Is this goal the result of a bad bounce? Or were the Jets guilty of standing around watching the puck here?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Was this goal a result of a “bad bounce” or a set play? Shooting wide of the net and aiming for a ricochet off the boards to the other side of the net seems more of a set play that takes advantage of Sam Lafferty beating Josh Morrissey to the puck and Brossoit’s inability to move quickly enough to his left.

This could for sure be seen as a bad bounce going off of Anthony Bitetto’s back heel, but where exactly was he starting to skate towards just before that puck was shot? And again we see three Jets just kind of standing there and not challenging Lafferty’s shot at all as he scores his second of the game.

The last goal of the game can fall in that “bad bounce” category as the puck takes a wicked hop over the stick of Morrissey, but at the same time flailing around on the ice and swiping an already bouncing puck back to a defenseman is just asking for trouble. And really at this point the game is already over and the Jets were clearly going through the motions.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Jets can say “bounces” but I myself am seeing a lot of poor defense and standing around.

Funny enough, the two Jets goals in the game came off of very fortunate bounces where a hopeful Mathieu Perreault centering attempt ricocheted into the Penguins net to open the game, and the other goal happened after a Patrik Laine pass seemingly for Kyle Connor ended up into the shins and stick of a streaking Mark Scheifele.

It’s way too early to panic, but…

To a man last night, the Jets were ready to dismiss this game as a one-off, an aberration or an outlier. I don’t expect them to act like the sky is falling and all hope is lost after game seven of an 82 game schedule, but hopefully behind the scenes and behind the “it’s just bad bounces” dismissals of a bad loss, is a team and coaching staff knowing what their shortcomings actually are and ready to work on them.