The Winnipeg Jets wrapped up their November schedule in disappointing fashion last night, falling 5-3 to the Colorado Avalanche, and putting a bow on the teams worst November since moving to Winnipeg. The Jets finished the second month of the season at 4-9-1 and played themselves from near the top of the Western Conference, to out of playoff position.
If anyone asks you why #NHLJets fans can be so hot and cold on their team just show them a tape of this game.
— randy turner (@randyturner15) November 29, 2015
The last two nights have been a perfect metaphor for the entire month. Winnipeg probably played their best game of the year Friday night in Minnesota en route to a 3-1 win. They played a full 60 minutes and dominated the Wild throughout the night. Minnesota only managed 15 shots and did not really have a great chance throughout the game. Fast forward 24hrs, and the Jets were a completely different team. The game flew back and forth, with each team trading chances, a recipe for disaster against the Avalanche who had chance after chance, including four breakaway’s in the first 40 minutes. Colorado took the game by a score of 5-3 and the Jets head into December hoping for better things.
The problems for the Jets started at the back-end this month. Winnipeg has the worst save percentage in the league over the past month, and their goals against average has sky rocketed. The Jets have given up four or more goals nine times this month, and between Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson the goaltender of record for Winnipeg has had a save percentage under .900. With Pavelec hurt, the starting job has shifted to Hutchinson, however he has struggled all month. This may be a chance for one of the Jets top prospects, Connor Hellebuyck, to make his move on an NHL job. Hellebuyck got his first start in Minnesota on Friday, earning his first NHL victory. Hellebuyck was not tested often but did his job in his NHL debut. The way both Pavelec and Hutchinson have performed so far, Hellebuyck has a chance here. Whether it is him or Hutchinson, somebody needs to steps up in December or the Jets will continue down this path and find themselves in a hole to large to escape from.
It is not only the goaltending struggling in Winnipeg, the offense has struggled to put up numbers as well. Winnipeg has scored less than two and a half goals per game and they have seen the production of some of their top scorers severally drop off. Outside of Blake Wheeler, no Jet has been able to stay consistent. The rest of the top line has been invisible at times, and the hot start of youngsters Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele have cooled off. Pair scoring problems with bad goaltending and poor team defense and this team has come way off track.
The frustrating part for the Jets and their fans, is that Winnipeg has shown that they have the ability. The game in Minnesota Friday was one of the best the Jets have played all year. They also were very strong in a loss to St. Louis November 16th, and have shown bits and pieces all month that they are the team that many picked to improve on a playoff performance last year. Unfortunately the Jets were also shutout by the Flyers at the start of the month, and beat down by Nashville November 14th, losing by a touchdown. The Jets have shown both sides of the coin this month but the negatives far out weighed any positives and they head into December below .500 and with a lot of work to do to regain a playoff spot.
Born and raised Winnipeg sports fan and contributor with The Hockey Writers.