The Winnipeg Jets looked like the NHL’s best team from December 2nd to January 20th, posting a record of 18-2-2 (38 points). But in their three games before the All-Star Break, they snagged just one of a possible six points. While this is no reason to panic, and you can even say the Jets reached the break at the right time, it doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be concern in Winnipeg.
But this is an outstanding hockey team, and if a few key players or groups step up, then expect the Jets to return to what has become familiar winning ways. This isn’t to say they will emulate that 18-2-2 record in their next 22 contests, but another five-to-eight-game winning streak is nowhere near impossible.
Winnipeg saw one player return recently, and if they produce at a monster rate again, they will turn this team around. And that is where we will begin this conversation of three X-Factors who will make or break the Jets season.
Kyle Connor needs to rediscover his game from earlier in the year
Kyle Connor was one of the Jets best forwards before he went down with a lower-body injury, but in the five games since his return, he has been ultra-pedestrian, logging just one point. The winger averaged over a point per game when the Jets placed him on injured reserve back in December, with 28 in 26 contests.
He was also leading the team in goals with 17, which nearly doubled the second and third-place skaters at the time. Next to Connor Hellebuyck, it’s clear Connor was the Jets MVP, but it’s since become clear the injury has set him back.
And not just that, the entire team has also suffered before the break, telling us the Jets needed time off more than most of the league’s other 31 teams. If Connor rediscovers what made him a major scoring threat earlier in the season, expect the Jets to rediscover their game as a unit.