Jets and Lowry Finding Shorthanded and Secondary Scoring Touch

Adam Lowry and shorthanded goals: name a more iconic duo as of late.

Lowry Piling Up Shorthanded Points

The Jets’ rugged and respected third-liner has a trio of shorthanded markers and a shorthanded assist in the past month. Most recently, he put the punctuation mark on the Jets’ 7-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday night with a nifty goal while Neal Pionk was in the box for slashing.

His moves on shorthanded breakaways — he’s had more than just the three he scored on — are usually simple: he either goes backhand to forehand or forehand to backhand. He prefers to try to get an opposing goaltender off balance before attempting to slide the puck around or through them along the ice; he does not generally wire a shot.
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Lowry generates shorthanded opportunities with his underrated speed and aggressive play. The Jets’ penalty-killing regime was absolutely dreadful to begin the season, with its failures mostly owing to its passivity.

Adam Lowry Winnipeg Jets
Adam Lowry has four shorthanded points and three shorthanded goals in the past month. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Through their first 25 games of 2021-22 — just days before Paul Maurice resigned — the PK was operating at an abysmal 66.20 per cent efficiency and was second-last in the NHL to only the Vancouver Canucks.

Related: Jets Pathetic and Passive Penalty Kill Needs Massive Revamp

The PK was so bad in the first two-and-a-half months — operating at 68.8 per cent efficiency when Maurice left on Dec. 17 — that its percentage can never truly recover, but it’s gotten quite a bit better under interim head coach Dave Lowry.

While it still sits 22nd league-wide, it has improved to an overall efficiency of 76.5 per cent. In Dave Lowry’s 33 games behind the bench, it has operated at 82.2 per cent efficiency.

A big reason for that improvement is increased pursuit of the puck carrier. Under Maurice, the Jets collapsed into a small box in the middle of the ice in an attempt to discourage cross-crease passes and to block shots. They did not pursue the puck carrier at all and generally stayed stationary. This allowed the opponents to cycle the puck unencumbered and tee off dangerous one-timers and shots from prime locations

Now, Jets’ penalty killers activate closer to the blue line, and put pressure on defensemen to move the puck quickly. Prior, they rarely ventured above the top of the circles. When the opponent makes a mistake now, it can lead to odd-man rushes or breakaway chances like the one below.

Adam Lowry has been the main offensive beneficiary of this new strategy — also scoring shorthanded on Feb. 25 versus the Colorado Avalanche — but he isn’t the only one with a shortie since his father took over as coach. Kyle Connor has two (Jan. 13 versus the Detroit Red Wings and March 8 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning) and Dominic Toninato has one (Feb. 17 versus the Seattle Kraken.)

Overall, the Jets have eight shorthanded goals, tied for second in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Golden Knights.

Lowry Making Up for Chilly First Half of Season

Lowry now has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points through 61 games. In the 2021 portion of the schedule — 30 games — he had just three goals and three assists for six points.

In the 2022 portion of the schedule — 31 games thus far — he has six goals and four assists for 10 points. He has four points already in March.

Lowry Big Part of Jets’ Recent Improvement On Secondary Scoring Rate

Lowry’s main role is not to produce a ton of offence, but to play a shutdown role, kill penalties, win key face offs, and wear opponents down with physical play. He’s certainly done that, as the big-bodied centre leads the Jets with 184 hits.

However, secondary or depth scoring is something every successful team needs; a goal from a third or fourth liner could propel a team to victory in games star players come up empty.

Kyle Connor Winnipeg Jets
When star players like Kyle Connor come up empty, teams need depth scoring to pick up the slack. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Jets got little depth scoring through the first four months of the season. A Winnipeg Free Press article from Jan. 25 found of the Jets’ total 110 goals at the time, only 12 — or 10.9 per cent — were scored by players not on the top two lines. (From ‘Jets out of their depth’, Winnipeg Free Press, Jan. 25, 2022.)

That percentage has improved since. For the sake of this analysis, the author considers a top-six player to be one who has mainly played on the top six, even if they played on the bottom six at times or are not playing right now (hence Andrew Copp and Cole Perfetti, both injured, are not included.)

Related: Jets Must Maintain Seller Status Despite Copp Injury, Wild Card Gains

Combined, bottom-six forwards Adam Brooks, David Gustafsson, Jansen Harkins, Lowry, the departed Riley Nash, Austin Poganski, Kristian Reichel, CJ Suess, Evgeny Svechnikov, Toninato, and Kristian Vesalainen have scored 28 — or 14.8 per cent — of the Jets’ 189 goals.

The Jets are two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the second Western Conference Wild Card spot with 21 games to go. Although them making the postseason is still a long shot, continued shorthanded and depth scoring from Lowry et. al would only help their chances.


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