Jets’ Inconsistencies are Costing them Wins

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice, in his post-game press conference following their home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, summed up the first third of the Jets’ season without actually saying it … inconsistent. A team that bolstered its defense in the offseason has played poorly at times. A team that is fully laden with offensive skill has at times struggled to score, and the special teams have been good, then bad, and in the case of the penalty kill, mostly bad.

Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice
Inconsistency is a problem for Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

“I liked three of the four games. Thought we were clearly good enough to win the last two, but I thought we were good enough to win the last three. We clearly weren’t good enough tonight, didn’t deserve to

– Paul Maurice

Maurice summed up the Jets’ season to date in those three sentences. They are good enough to win most nights, but they don’t always, and sometimes simply not good enough. Let’s look at what has been a roller coaster about the Jets game through the first third of the campaign.

Jets’ Inconsistent Results with Good Play

How many times have we heard Maurice say that he likes the game the Jets played, but they didn’t get the results? They heavily outplayed the Anaheim Ducks in the season opener and lost 4-1, and in this last homestand, hosted the Arizona Coyotes and outshot them by a 46-15 and lost. In fact, of the Jet’s nine losses, they have outshot their opponents four times, and against the likes of the lowly Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks. And don’t forget about the loss to the Minnesota Wild in the opening week in October when they were up 5-4 and scored in an empty net to secure their first win of the season, only to have Kyle Connor go offside to disallow the goal. The Wild then scored in the dying seconds to tie the game and won in overtime.

If you transfer those lost five points into the win column, the Jets record is now 16-7-3 and with 35 points, would be tied for third in the Western Conference and in second place in the Central Division and in the conversation as Stanley Cup contenders, right now they in the “they’re not as good as everyone said” conversation.

Jets’ Inconsistent Penalty Kill

Actually, this has been consistent. Consistently bad. The Jets possess the second-worst penalty kill in the NHL at 64.8%, meaning they give up a power-play goal for every three penalties they take. Only the Canucks have a more porous penalty kill and a team that ironically scored two power play-goals against them in the previously mentioned loss. They have given up a power-play goal in 15 of the 26 games they’ve played to date and, on eight occasions, have given up more than one. If you break it down, the Jets gave up 10 power-play goals in the first five games of the season. Then only three in the next nine, and in their last six games, the gates have opened up again and have allowed six man-advantage markers.

Related Article: Jets Pathetic and Passive Penalty Kill Needs Massive Revamp

The Jets are in a tight Central Division with the Wild, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, and Dallas Stars. Other than the Wild, who are on an eight-game winning streak, there are only four points separating second from sixth in the standings, and three of those teams have penalty kills above 80%. That is a big problem the Jets need to rectify.

Jets’ Inconsistent Scoring from Top Forwards

The Jets have depth up front. They have been shouting that from the rooftop since training camp, and for the most part, they have been able to put the puck in the net, but there’s a definite lack of consistency from the top-six forwards. Captain Blake Wheeler has yet to score this season. Mark Scheifele has scored six goals this season, four in the last three games, and twice has gone seven consecutive games without a goal. (From “Mark Scheifele ends seven-game goalless streak, leads Jets to victory over Devils”, The Globe and Mail, 03/12/21) That’s $14.4 Million of salary that hasn’t produced.

Blake Wheeler has yet to score his first goal of the season (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois have had impressive starts to the season, and even their production has been a bit of a roller coaster. In the first 10 games of the season, Connor had 16 points – 8 goals (G), 8 assists (A) – in the next 10 he had six points (4G, 2A), and in the last six, he has scored seven points (5G, 2A). After 11 points in his first 10 games, Dubois also slowed in the next 10 with only six points and is at a point per game clip again in the last six Jets’ games.

The Jets have a good team; don’t kid yourself. But for them to get to the playoffs in a good position and take a deep run, they will have to tighten their game. If not, then changes in the near future will have to be made. This is a team touted to win and win consistently. They have won some, not enough, and have been anything but consistent.

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