It was decisive end to a brilliant, albeit quiet streak. The Winnipeg Jets lost 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens as Carey Price secured his first shutout of the season. With the loss the Jets’ streak of earning at least a point in eight consecutive games (6-0-2) came to a close. The streak was really kick started by a 4-3 win over the surging New York Islanders. A shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils followed, but the Jets looked like a different team, at least on the defensive side. They shutout the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks in back-to-back games with different goaltenders and lost their most thrilling contest of the season 4-3 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
No one around the NHL really took the Jets leap in the standings seriously. There was little mention of the Jets’ streak outside of the Manitoba media. Winnipeg deserves some credit for what it accomplished, although it will mean nothing if they fall to the bottom of the Central Division by mid December.
With that said, there are a couple of key takeaways from the streak, both good and bad.
The Jets allowed a grand total of 10 goals in eight games and that is by far the primary reason they were able to take 16 of 18 possible points in those games. Defense played a role, but the netminding was all-world.
Consider Ondrej Pavelec’s numbers:
- Seven starts (5-0-2)
- 10 goals against, just six at even strength
- .955 save percentage or better in five of seven games
- One shutout
Pavelec is now over 800 minutes played, that "sample size" isn't so small anymore.
— Tim Hiebert (@TimJHiebert) November 9, 2014
According to TSN’s Scott Cullen, on average Pavelec is facing shots from much closer than he has in previous years. Making the streak even more impressive. Pavelec had great positioning, solid rebound control and when he was down and seemingly out, still was able to make clutch saves.
On the season he is 7-5-2 with a .928 save percentage, 1.99 goals-against average and one shutout.
Pavelec’s run silenced critics for now, but he will have to somehow continue to play close to that level in order to give the Jets a chance to win. Especially with the way their offense has been performing.
The Jets weren’t exactly blowing teams out in those eight games. They allowed 10 regulation and overtime goals and scored just 15. In terms of who was producing the offense not much changed from the first few games of the season when they struggled, aside from the opener against the Arizona Coyotes.
Three players have contributed the majority of the goals. Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler have combined for 16 tallies, while the rest of the team has just 12 goals. Most notable is the lack of production from Mark Scheifele, Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane. Kane has one goal in eight appearances while Scheifele and Byfuglien have two each and have appeared in all 16 games.
Over the eight game streak Byfuglien had no goals and three assists, Scheifele had one goal and two assists and Kane also had one goal and two assists, albeit in just six games.
The Jets cannot win without secondary scoring. When they are up against the top teams in the West it’s possible their top line will be shutdown. Strong defensive units in L.A., Anaheim and Chicago are capable of doing that. The second and third lines must create more offense for the team to have any chance at a postseason birth. The fourth line, well that’s a another story.
— Tim Hiebert (@TimJHiebert) November 12, 2014
Fans should be happy with what the Jets accomplished. There weren’t many easy matchups over the course of those eight games and they competed hard against Stanley Cup contenders from Pittsburgh and Chicago.
That said this streak may be an anomaly.
Ondrej Pavelec has shown he’s capable of playing at a level many had giving up on him ever reaching. However, no goalie can be expected to put together the type of performances he did for any extended period. The offense will need to be two, if not three times as effective if the Jets hope to string together another run like this.
Don’t forget just how strong the Western Conference is. Even with taking 14 of 16 points, the Jets still find themselves fourth in the Central and tied for eighth in the conference.
Eric is a postgraduate public relations student at Humber College. Prior to that he obtained a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor. He covers the Winnipeg Jets for The Hockey Writers and is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.