The Winnipeg Jets are 10 games into the 2021-22 regular season, and have posted a 6-2-2 record thus far. Here, we’ll take a look at 10 notable numbers, both good and bad, from their first 10 contests.
Notable Number #1: 14
Number of points
While the Jets have not played to their potential consistently, they have nonetheless gotten off to their best start in franchise history.
With 14 points and riding an eight-game point streak after a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Friday night, the Jets surpassed their best 10-game start since relocating from Atlanta (they were 6-3-1 last season, in 2018-19, and 2015-16.)
Notable Number #2: Zero
Number of goals combined for Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler
The Jets have gotten off to that record start despite their captain and number-one centre having not lit the lamp a single time.
Wheeler and Scheifele both missed five games due to COVID-19, and Scheifele missed the season opener as well as he was serving the last game of the harsh four-game suspension he received for charging the Montreal Canadiens’ Jake Evans in Game 1 of the second-round playoff matchup in June.
Scheifele and Wheeler are currently playing on the third line with Adam Lowry at left wing, and have combined for five assists (Scheifele three, Wheeler two.)
Notable Number #3: 15
Number of goals combined for Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor
The other forwards on the Jets’ top six have picked up the slack for Scheifele and Wheeler, most notably Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor.
The duo, playing together on the first line with Evgeny Svechnikov, have seven goals apiece. Dubois is playing leaps and bounds better than he did during his disappointing first season in Winnipeg, and is starting to be a consistent and dominance presence. He just had an eight-game point streak snapped Friday.
Connor. meanwhile, had a seven-game point streak snapped Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, but still leads the team in points with 16. The criminally-underrated Connor has really just picked off from where he left off last season, when he led the Jets with 26 tallies.
Their combined production has been historic: heading into Friday’s game, it was the first time two Jets had seven goals each through nine games since Teemu Selanne and Keith Tkachuk in 1994.
Notable Number #4: 12
Points for Andrew Copp
Andrew Copp is one of many players benefitting from the added ice time the Jets’ 11 forward, 7 defenseman strategy is providing.
The 2013 fourth rounder, primarily a defensive specialist earlier in his career, is proving he belongs on the top six and that his offensive output last season was no fluke. Skating as the second-line centre between Paul Stastny and Nikolaj Ehlers, Copp has five goals and seven assists and has been one of the most consistently engaged forwards.
If Copp can keep up this type of pace or close, he’ll be in a excellent spot to cash in this summer as an unrestricted free agent for the first time.
Notable Number #5: 3.00
Average goals against per game
Despite the Jets’ record, they’ve given up an average of three goals per game, which is rather bloated. Connor Hellebuyck hasn’t been at nearly his best yet, after contracting COVID-19 in August and only getting vaccinated after.
In his first three starts on the Jets’ nightmarish season-opening three-game road trip, he looked in a fog and allowed a whopping 14 goals.
Notable Number #6: 122
Number of high-danger chances against
Much was made this offseason on the Jets’ much-improved top-four that includes Brenden Dillon in addition to the aforementioned Morrissey, Schmidt, and Pionk. Many predicted boring nights for Jets’ net minders.
So far, that hasn’t quite been the case. The seven defenders — which includes the third pair of Dylan DeMelo and Logan Stanley and seventh defensemen Nathan Beaulieu — have given up more high-danger chances than anticipated and only eight teams have given up more.
Of the 122 high-danger chances, 23 of them have come on the penalty kill. 21 of the high-danger chances have resulted in goals, the second most in the NHL.
Notable Number #7: 64.70%
Penalty Killing Percentage
Another reason for the inflated goals against per game is the Jets’ poor penalty killing. It has given up 12 goals on 34 chances and sits second last in the NHL.
The problems with the penalty kill are the same as in prior seasons despite the personnel being different. The strategy is far too passive and collapses into a tight box in front of the net, with no pursuit of the puck carrier. While this can prevent cross-crease passes, it also allows opponents to tee off shots from the outside and move in closer and closer by cylcing the puck up high.
Notable Number #8: 29%
Power Play Percentage
While the penalty kill has been poor, the power play has been good, scoring nine goals on 31 opportunities.
Defensemen have played a big part in power play success, with much of the man-advantage offence coming from the point. Slick puck movers Neal Pionk and Nate Schmidt have five and three power play assists, respectively, while Josh Morrissey leads the team with three power play goals.
When Scheifele and Wheeler were out, head coach Paul Maurice was forced to come up with some new power play combinations. Thus far, Dubois, Connor, Copp, Stastny, and Pionk all have at least one power play marker.
On Friday night, Wheeler, Scheifele, Dubois, Morrissey, and Schmidt made up the first unit, while Stastny, Copp, Connor, Ehlers (on the point) and Pionk made up the second.
Maurice would be wise to give the second unit more time, as it is just as capable as the first unit — if not more — of generating zone time and creating offence.
Notable Number #9: 3 (Again)
Wins for Eric Comrie
Coming into the regular season, one of the biggest question marks was the Jets’ backup goaltending situation, since Eric Comrie is short of NHL experience and success. So far, he’s answered the questions by winning. He is 3-0-0, sports a 1.95 GAA, and a .922 SV%.
After Connor Hellebuyck made a half-dozen starts in a row to start-22 campaign, Comrie finally took to the crease in Los Angeles against the Kings in the second game of his team’s three-game California road trip. He was solid, stopping 30 shots in a 3-2 victory and helped weather a big second-period push from the home side.
Comrie was then given a spot start against the Stars on Tuesday, after Hellebucyk and his wife Andrea welcomed a baby boy into the world earlier in the day. In the new dad’s stead, Comrie stopped 24 of 27 in a 4-3 shootout victory.
On Friday, he got his second-straight start as Hellebuyck was under the weather (not due to COVID) and wasn’t busy, but stopped 17 of 18 that came his way.
If Comrie’s confidence keeps building and he keeps playing well when given the chance, the Jets won’t have to ride Hellebuyck as hard. If Hellebuyck can’t start on Saturday, Comrie could make the first back-to-back starts of his career.
Notable Number #10: 13,709
Average Attendance at Canada Life Centre
One thing that’s odd to see at a Winnipeg Jets game is empty seats, considering the organization sold out 332 consecutive games from 2011 to October, 2019.
Gone are the days of the thousands-deep waitlist for season seats. Jets tickets are no longer as hot a commodity as the team has not sold out Canada Life Centre for any of their four home games. They’re averaging 13,709 fans per game, well below the capacity of 15,321. Their highest was 14,020 for a highly-entertaining Saturday-night tilt with Central Division rival Nashville Predators.
There are a number of possible reasons for lower attendance: some fans who would go to games cannot because they refuse to get vaccinated. Some fans who are vaccinated might not feel comfortable in big crowds yet. Yet other fans may have taken a financial hit due to COVID and don’t have enough wiggle room in their budget to go to games.
However, the fans who are coming through the gates — author included — seem to be having a great time at the downtown rink and are and enjoying being back in the stands thanks to the vaccine.
True North is now advertising quarter-season and five-game packs and added to the game-day experience with a state-of-the-art on-ice projection system all in the effort to get butts in seats, but it won’t be easy. Attendance is down across the league with only five markets — Vegas, Washington, Seattle, Boston and Tampa Bay — selling out.
The Jets’ seven-game homestand continues tonight against the New York Islanders. What will the next 10 games bring? We’re about to find out.
Declan Schroeder is a 27-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.