The Winnipeg Jets are through their first half-dozen games of 2022-23, and there are already plenty of notable stats to gnaw on.
Here, we’ll take a look at six statistics from their six games so far.
1 — Number of 60-Minute Efforts
The Jets have a 3-3-0 record in the young campaign, but have only put forth a complete effort once.
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That was their most recent game, a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 24. They controlled play throughout, gave up few high-quality chances to a high-quality opponent, and capitalized when it mattered.
The sturdy style they played is a blueprint for future victories and a map back to the playoffs. It’s also a sign the team’s becoming more comfortable with Rick Bowness’ systems and philosophies.
Related: 5 Takeaways from Jets’ First 5 Games of 2022-23
Growing pains as they adapted to the “Bowness way” were inevitable and certainly apparent through the first five. They played strong in spurts but also fell back into old bad habits a lot, with second periods in particular being a point of concern. In four middle frames — against the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Avalanche, and Toronto Maple Leafs — they were outplayed and outscored by a combined score of 7-1 combined.
The only time they played a strong second prior to against the Blues was against the Vegas Golden Knights, but they came into it trailing 4-0 after a disastrous first.
The collective will to be more aggressive and work harder seems to be there, but success is never linear. Don’t expect the Jets to excel from start to finish every game going forward, but do expect to see that more consistently.
1 — Number of Games with Bowness Behind the Bench
One challenge is that Bowness has not been behind the bench much to reiterate his priorities and help the team adjust in-game.
The 67-year-old had to sit out the first four games of the season due to COVID-19, which he first tested positive for just hours before the home opener against the Rangers.
Bowness, who said the virus hit him hard, made his regular-season debut when the Jets returned home to face the Maple Leafs on Oct. 22. However, during his afternoon media availability on Oct. 24 — ahead of the evening matchup against the Blues — he felt dizzy and had to cut it short. He was assessed by team medical staff and ruled out for the tilt.
Associate coach Scott Arniel has filled in admirably and Bowness participated via Zoom during the three-game road trip, but having the head coach out is hardly ideal considering he’s being banked more than anyone to turn the Jets’ fortunes around. Everyone is hoping he can get back to 100 per cent before too long.
1 — Goals By Kyle Connor
And that goal was on an empty net.
The sniper is severely snakebitten right now and cannot put one past a goalie no matter what he does. He has 20 shots and 36 shot attempts, but nothing to show for it other than his yawning cage marker six games ago.
Of all the Jets one thought may struggle out of the gate, Connor — who had 47 goals in a historic 2021-22 and was in the conversation for 50 this season — was not one of them. He does have a new centre — Mark Scheifele instead of Pierre-Luc Dubois — and the line’s right-winger, Nikolaj Ehlers, is out with injury.
Despite that, he’s been getting good chances. In the game against the Blues alone, he had a breakaway that was broken up by a slash (his stick was broken but there was no call) and hit the crossbar on a glorious third-period power play opportunity. It’s only a matter of time before the pucks start hitting twine.
13 — Points for the Second Line
There was some concern at the beginning of the season that putting Connor, Scheifele, and Ehlers together would leave the other three lines without enough offensive juice. That concern compounded when the second line went goalless in its first two games.
There’s not much concern anymore: the combination of Cole Perfetti, Dubois, and Blake Wheeler now have 13 points between them, and have produced a goal in each of their past four games.
Perfetti leads the line with five points (two goals, three assists) while Dubois (two goals, two assists) and Wheeler (four assists) are right behind him. The youngster is proving he belongs in the top six despite being bullied physically from time to time and Dubois has been a man on a mission. He is tied for the NHL lead with three posts hit, so with just a little more luck, he could have even better numbers.
Even Wheeler looks less stressed now that the responsibilities of a captain, which he admitted weighed heavy, are no longer on him. Consistent production from this trio will be key going forward, especially since the bottom six apart from Sam Gagner hasn’t shown a lot of touch.
10.5 — Power Play Percentage
The Jets’ power play has not been in sync, operating at 10.5 per cent efficiency (two goals on 19 opportunities.) They are zero-for-eight in the past three games and have gone zero-for-five in a game twice. They’ve had some trouble gaining the zone, and when they have put on sustained pressure, they’ve fired a lot of shots way high or way wide.
The Jets converted on 21.05 per cent of their opportunities on the man advantage last season.
“I think we can be a little quicker in certain scenarios,” Kyle Connor said recently of the power play. “Skating, getting into holes, getting open for another guy, not letting it get stagnant on either wall or up top.”
Bowness said on Oct. 24 that the Jets haven’t gotten in front of the opposition’s net enough. “We need more of that. We’re getting good looks,” he said. “We had some great looks off the rush, but man, it’s a tough league to score in…” he said. “We’ve just got to get greasy goals. We’ll get them.”
If the power play continues to misfire, the Jets should consider calling up Ville Heinola to quarterback a unit. The slick Finnish defenseman, sent down once again at the beginning of the season, has four primary assists in five games for the Manitoba Moose, is a team-high plus-eight, and is a key member of a power play regime that is operating at 29.4 per cent.
12.33 — High Danger Chances Given Up Per Game
The Jets’ biggest issue last season was allowing far too many high-danger chances off the rush and the cycle, which ran Connor Hellebuyck into the ground.
They’ve given up 74 high-danger chances this season (an average of 12.33 per game,) an improvement over the 13.41 per game they gave up last season.
This season’s figure is more impressive considering the calibre of opponents they’ve faced — an Eastern Conference Finalist, two teams considered capable of making deep runs, and of course, last season’s Stanley Cup champion.
While some defensemen have certainly struggled at times and the pairings have changed — most recently, Dylan DeMelo played with Logan Stanley and Josh Morrissey played with Neal Pionk — any development that leads to even slightly less rubber Hellebuyck’s way is a good one. He cannot be exhausted for the stretch run again if the Jets want to make the postseason.