Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A look at the Jets, 1/3 into the season


 
The Winnipeg Jets have had a very interesting season so far to say the least. Their leading scorer is Bryan Little who is on pace to shatter his career best. This despite the fact that Captain Andrew Ladd has experienced a major correction on goal scoring (as was to be expected) and Blake Wheeler has not exactly lit the world on fire. Dustin Byfuglien went without a goal for over a month and now is shooting the lights out. Suddenly he is on pace for an 17 goal season... Ondrej Pavelec had to take his game to another level and he has, posting career best numbers so far in SV% and GAA. Al Montoya is right there with him as well, giving the Jets a solid one-two punch they badly need. 

 
The move to the west this year was always going to be an interesting spectacle. I think most people knew the west was going to be tougher, but not this much tougher. The style of play is much tighter and the teams are "heavier". The Jets are treading water as far as the playoffs are concerned, but they need a nice run of 6 or 7 games to really be considered as major players in the playoff chase. How do the numbers look from a team perspective? According to Corsi numbers, they have actually slipped overall vs. last years final totals. Now, it's not apples to apples because the Jets played all their games in the east last year. Last year they were 16th in the entire league with a Corsi of 51%. This year they have slipped to 22nd and are under 50%. They had a really bad run in October but the numbers are heading north thanks to an improved November. 
 
The key to the teams "improvement" this year? Better goaltending. The numbers suggest they are not playing better defence, and  you can argue that they are playing better teams consistently this year. If you want to look at the MVP so far this year it is Pavelec. He came into this season with a career average just under 3.00 GAA and a SV% just over .900. Both are not elite numbers and neither will get you to the playoffs. This year Pavelec is 2.66 and .917 which is much better than his first two years in the Peg. How does he rank overall? His GAA ranks him 26th and his SV% is 20th. Now there are some backups who have played enough qualify so he is realistically middle of the pack for starters. That isn't a total indictment of him however, as the team also needs to continue their improved play. If they do I suspect Pav will enjoy even better results. 

 
Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom were tied for the team lead in scoring very early in the season. Since then, Buff has gone supernova and Enstrom has turned into a defensive D man... Obviously not but Enstrom is not finding the score sheet but he is playing a very solid two way game. Buff is still a little too "high event" but if you are producing you get more leash. Enstrom has  been there lately to help clean up the mess left behind. I'm sure most people look at the team on the surface and assume Buff is the best or most valuable D man. Some nights that is the case, some nights...lets say he's a well paid rover. What you cannot deny is the impact both Buff and Enstrom have on the team and the game. A healthy Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba would go along way to a successful playoff push. 

 
If there was an All-Star game this year, Bryan Little would be on it. They say in life timing is everything though so instead of an exhibition game, Little will probably enjoy a tropical vacation. Little is currently tied for 15th in league scoring with Bobby Ryan, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Daniel Sedin. Great company! I mentioned before and I'll say it again...he has easily covered the bet on his contract. Little is a long way from being considered "elite", but he is proving he is a quality #1 center for the Jets, and they couldn't be happier.  

There have been a few unsung heroes as well along the way. Did anyone have any expectations for Olli Jokinen? How about 5th in team scoring with a solid 17 points so far? Nope, didn't see that coming. Last year, Jokinen had 14 points in 45 games... He's only played in 7 games, but Al Montoya has been a solid backup. Montoya only played in 7 games all of last year! Pavelec cannot play every game and I think (hope) the coach has finally figured that out. His GAA and SV% are also on pace that are better than his career average. Michael Frolik has been a rock solid addition to this team. He faces all the tough assignments and has still chipped in with 16 points so far. He hasn't showed this much offence since his Florida days, only now he is a complete player. Great addition to the team. Devin Setoguchi has been very streaky but has added depth to a team that sorely needed it. Has sheltered the absence of Evander Kane.  

It will be interesting to see what the rest of the season brings. Enjoy the games!

 




 

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