Photo credit:© Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Is a presidents trophy a real possibility for the Winnipeg Jets?
By Goose1 month ago
Be sure to check Betway to check out the latest Jets game day odds and bet on the NHL! Fleetwood Mac would tell us that “Thunder only happens when it’s raining.” Right now, success is raining on the Winnipeg Jets, and you can hear the thunderous roar of people recognizing this team for who they really are.
The crazy thing is, the Jets are winning games and challenging the top teams without a strong power play. The Jets’ power play ranks in the bottom ten of the NHL, scoring on only 17.5 percent of power plays. However, the Jets’ 5-on-5 performance is keeping the team thriving in third place in the NHL, and a victory over the Anaheim Ducks on January 5th could propel the club to the top of the NHL.
The club’s defence is far greater than I thought it was. Over the off season and even during the first ten games I was convinced GM Kevin Cheveldayoff fumbled by not upgrading the defence yet they are a large reason why the Jets are on this run of not allowing more than three goals against. In fact they have allowed the sixth fewest shots against in the NHL this season according to naturalstattrick.com
According to Moneypuck.com, the Jets are seventh in the NHL for 5-on-5 goals, with 85. Coupled with the outstanding goaltending duo of Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit, who are among the best goaltenders in the NHL, the team has allowed only 50 goals during 5-on-5 play. This is nine fewer goals than the second-ranked LA Kings in 5-on-5 goals against.
Let’s be honest here; the Jets’ power play is just starting to turn the corner. We witnessed the Jets making some changes over the Christmas break, and things started to look better. We could see the desired movement in the games against the Minnesota Wild and the Tampa Bay Lightning, even though there was a lack of power play scoring. There was a power play goal by Vlad Namestnikov in the second Minnesota game, supporting the notion that the Jets’ special teams are turning the corner.
Even the penalty kill, which has to be the weakest link in the Jets’ chain, has the potential to be better. Head coach Rick Bowness, prior to the break, talked about improving the penalty kill. The simple breakdown of what he was saying then was “Block more shots and get the puck out of the zone once it’s on your stick,” a straightforward concept that can be learned by the pros.
Unfortunately, since then, the Jets have only killed seven of eleven penalties. The significant piece the Jets need to improve their penalty kill is a great faceoff man to win faceoffs when the other team has an extra attacker. At this point, it is a fixable issue. Dominic Toninato could be a piece of that puzzle, as he has won 15 of 29 faceoffs in his five games with the club this season. If the AHL player isn’t the right fit for the Jets on the penalty kill or as the fourth-line center, perhaps it’s time to consider trading for a fourth liner like Kevin Stenlund for a second tour of duty.
A trade on fourth line really won’t make or break the team. David Gustafsson is due to join the team in the near future. He has won 52 percent of his faceoffs with the club this season. As of right now is there another team with a better bottom six and is it utilized in the same way? The Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knights are the only teams I can think of that come close.
The Adam Lowry, Mason Appleton and Nino Niederreiter have 25 goals and 58 points combined. Getting that much consistent smoke from your third line is beyond important. There will be night when the big dogs don’t produce and yet you see both the third and fourth lines doing just that. The fourth line with AJF, Morgan Barron and David Gustafsson/ Dominic Toninato have an expected goals for per 60 of 1.25.
If the Jets manage to turn their special teams right around, they have all the other pieces needed to win the regular season. If they add a few small additions to the club’s forwards and a top-four defender could be all the Jets need to make it to the cup finals.
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