The Winnipeg Jets don’t have an easy road ahead. In their next 11 games, only 3 of their opponents are currently sitting outside of a playoff spot (the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, and Islanders twice). For their remaining 30 games, the Jets sit 15th in ‘strength of schedule’ with difficult games against Boston, Carolina and the New Jersey Devils (2). They also play what is assumed to be a middling Meier-less Sharks team three times in March and April.
Oddly, the Jets are a below .500 hockey team (10-11-0) against the Eastern Conference this year, with multiple losses to both Toronto and Washington. It’s a confounding stat attributable to losses against Montreal, Columbus, Philadelphia and Detroit – all beatable teams. They have 11 such Eastern Conference games left to close the season.
Now that we know the path forward, what can the Jets do to ensure success closing out the season, and hopefully into the playoffs:
Continue to perform well against non-playoff teams: Winnipeg is a blistering 19-6 against non-playoff teams this year. That’s some serious “TCB”. Nine of those wins were against the struggling Blackhawks, Blues and Canucks – but good teams handle their business against bad teams. The Jets’ only losing record vs. non-playoff teams are Detroit (0-1) and Columbus (0-1). Recent history has not been kind to the Jets in this regard, so undoubtedly this ascendance is a refreshing change of pace.
Continue to improve in the possession game: Courtesy of my co-host on The Airport Lounge Podcast, the Jets are 3rd in ‘Corsi For’ over their last 10 games at 53.9%. In fact, in their last 13 games, the Jets have only lost the possession battle (statistically) 3 times. That is good. The Jets have historically been a below average 5 on 5 possession team, and strong possession metrics correlate to playoff success.
Start scoring on the powerplay: The Jets are 1 for 20 on the powerplay in their last 5 games. That is admittedly a small sample size, however, expanded further, the Jets are 18% in their last 15 games which would rank 6th worst in the league. As an aside, the Edmonton Oilers score on 31.8% of their powerplay opportunities. If that seems crazy high – it’s because it is.
The highest powerplay conversion rate in NHL history is 31.9% by the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens. The Jets play the Oilers in a home-and-home at the beginning of March, so suffice to say – stay out of the penalty box fellas.
What is going on with Winnipeg Jets defenseman Logan Stanley?
Bench Logan Stanley: For the love of all things Winnipeg Jets, please bench this man. Nothing personal, it’s just that Logan is not great at hockey. Coach Bones’ decision to pull Samberg in favor of Stanley is puzzling:
It is clear above that Samberg is a better option than Stanley moving forward.
The Jets need a bit more from Cole Perfetti: It’s tough to demand more from a guy currently sitting second in rookie scoring, and who has also been statistically solid on the defensive end – especially for his age:
As currently constructed, the Jets need even more. Offensively, Perfetti’s true talent lies in his playmaking skills, but his 8.4% shooting percentage sits 10th on the Jets and ranks below Nate Schmidt. The Jets’ 3rd and 4th lines have not been prolific point producers, so their top 6 need to carry an extra offensive burden. Puck luck is bound to regress a little, but the Jets need Perfetti to reach another gear for the home stretch.
In all, the Jets are a good team, but unfortunately, good teams don’t win Stanley Cups – great teams do. Fans of the Jets are salivating at prospective additions to the roster at the trade deadline, but internal housekeeping is also in order. Their remaining schedule is difficult, but not prohibitively so – therefore the Jets are the true makers of their own destiny.