The Winnipeg Jets received some good news as Evander Kane returned to the lineup, in time for their tilt with the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. The 23-year-old left winger suffered a lower body injury in the Jets season opener, when teammate Mark Scheifele accidentally collided knee-on-knee with Kane, forcing the Vancouver native to the sidelines for eight games.
Goals Hard To Come By
The return of “The Natural” comes at a much-needed time for the Jets. Goals have been hard to come by so far this season and the club could use some added firepower. The Jets currently sit 27th in the NHL with 20 goals for in 10 games, an average of 2 goals per game.
The power play has exasperated the scoring issues. The Jets are 27th with the man advantage, scoring just 3 times in 24 chances. That leads to a conversion rate of just 8.8%.
— Jeff Hamilton (@jeffkhamilton) October 30, 2014
Kane’s return means Michael Frolik can move alongside Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little, while Dustin Byfuglien can join Mathieu Perrault on the third line. (Byfuglien should be on the blue line but that’s another story for another day.)
Driving Positive Possession
The Jets missed Kane’s speed along the wing as well as the way he drives puck possession. Last season, Kane posted a 51.6% Corsi as well as a 51.5% Fenwick number. When Kane is on the ice, the puck is usually in the offensive end which means the chances for goals go up.
Kane has a shoot-first mentality, as he led the Jets with 189 shots on goal last season, despite playing in only 63 out of 82 games. The Jets do have a tendency of making that extra pass that costs them a scoring chance. Kane won’t hesitate to direct the puck towards the net, especially in a prime scoring area.
On Thursday, the Jets passed up far too many scoring chances, as they were looking for the perfect play. It turned out to be fatal as the Jets fell in a shootout to the Devils, scoring only once in the process. This is what head coach Paul Maurice told the media following Thursday’s game.
“We passed up on some really prime places to shoot the puck and didn’t get it to the net. We’ll talk about it. I think you’ll see us put a lot of pucks to the net in the next game.”
Lack Of Confidence?
Maybe the issue right now with the Jets could be confidence. Through the first ten games, Frolik and Perrault haven’t etched their mark on the score sheet, while Scheifele only has one goal, but has found the goal post on several occasions. The term snake-bitten has used by Jets fans to describe their current plight.
Whatever the case may be, the Jets need to overcome these obstacles and find a way to put pucks into the net. Kane’s return should help in that cause, but he can’t do it alone. The rest of the team needs to contribute offensively in order to progress.
While it might be early, the Jets are in last place in the ultra-tough Central Division, five points back of the final playoff spot. On top of that, there are three teams, Dallas, St. Louis and Colorado, that the Jets have to leapfrog over just to reach that coveted playoff spot. If Kane and the Jets don’t find a way to score goals, the Jets season will be a lost cause sooner rather than later.
I share season tickets for the Winnipeg Jets since their return to the Manitoba capital in 2011. I have written about the Jets since 2011 on various sites.