The Winnipeg Jets have played 22 games in the 2014/15 season, and a quick look at my calculator tells me that they are now a quarter of the way through. They currently sit in 4th place in the Central Division, which is good enough for ninth in the Western Conference (one point behind the Sharks for the last wild card spot). The Jets have lost five of their last seven, and all the momentum from their prior eight game point streak seems a distant memory. Like when the remote falls between the couch cushions, and you can only touch it with the very tips of your fingers…that’s how the teams feels about relates to winning these dark days.
So far…it seems like more of the same.
What is different about the team this season? Ondrej Pavelec has turned around 180 degrees in the off-season. He is faster, leaner, meaner and seeing the puck better. Oh yeah, and he’s consistent, too. He is by far the best Jet on the ice game in – game out. He has a save percentage of .917, which is down slightly from last week, but still good enough to crack the top 20 goalies in the league. He currently sits ahead in the stats of Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Schneider and Tuukka Rask.
Another crucial difference in the team this season is their defensive play. With the exception of the last two games, the Jets have been strong in their own end. They’ve been covering their man, playing hard in the corners and coming up with the puck more times than not. They seem to know when to collapse, and they’ve been very smart positionally.
The offence, however, has been somewhat short of achieving brilliance; shy, even. They don’t score. Like, ever. Their goals per game average is 1.96. That’s good enough for second last in the league, ahead of only the meager Buffalo Sabres. When I compare the Jets scoring average against good teams, here’s what I find:
Los Angeles Kings – defending Stanley Cup champions – 2.67
Boston Bruins – 2.50
Vancouver Canucks – 13-6-1 – 2.95
Pittsburgh Penguins – actual machines of scoring – 3.53
St. Louis Blues – just kicked our ass tonight and lead the Central Division – 2.62
Montreal Canadiens – best team in the league, currently – 2.48
It doesn’t take a mathematician, a statistician or even an eighth grade arithmetic wiz to figure out this enigma. The Jets need to score more if they are to keep up with teams like these going forward.