Winnipeg Jets: Storylines to Watch in the Playoff Push

The dust has settled in Winnipeg after the Jets’ blockbuster deal that shipped Evander Kane to the Buffalo Sabres. Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers have each played two games with the Jets and while it’s still too early to judge their performance, they have added to the storylines building around the team.

Tyler Myers

Tyler Myers recorded one shot and was a minus-one playing 21 minutes and 23 seconds in his first game as a Jet. In his second game he registered two assists and four shots, playing just shy of 23 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings in a 5-4 shootout win.

It’s clear Myers can provide depth on the back end. He can eat up a ton of minutes as a second pairing defenseman. But, what other impact can he have? Is this the opportunity he’s needed to become a dominant blueliner at both ends of the rink?

Four and a half NHL seasons have passed since Myers’ remarkable rookie campaign. Playing in all 82 games, the 6’8″ defenseman recorded 11 goals and 37 assists for 48 points. He was solid in the defensive zone as well.

Who Myers plays with will have major influence on how he performs, especially in the new few weeks. The most intriguing option? Jacob Trouba.

The Goaltending Situation

A year ago there weren’t many people predicting Michael Hutchinson would be giving Ondrej Pavelec competition for the starting job. But, there weren’t many who had any confidence in Pavelec or his ability to pull the Jets into the playoffs.

Both goaltenders have been streaky, with Hutchinson holding the edge statistically.

Hutchinson is 16-7-3 with a .923 save percentage, 2.23 goals-against average and two shutouts.

Pavelec is 13-12-7 with a .910 save percentage, 2.55 goals-against average and one shutout.

Neither goaltender has seized the moment lately, as both have had save percentages under .900 in three of their past five starts. The next 10 games or so should be closely watched. First, to see who performs better especially against strong Western Conference opponents such as the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators. And, more importantly, who Paul Maurice starts more in these key contests and overall.

Is the starting job their for the taking for Hutchinson?

Mark Scheifele

He’s only 21 years old. Mark Scheifele has endured a lot of pressure since being the Jets’ first pick upon their move to Winnipeg. The spotlight isn’t as bright now as the team is performing well and Scheifele is at least starting to live up to the lofty expectations fans and the media set.

But, how will he perform as the race to the playoffs heats up?

Scheifele has notched eight goals and 23 assists for 31 points in 58 games this season. He sits sixth on the team in points. His eight goals are disappointing, as he scored 13 in 63 games last season. Will he continue to average about a half a point per game in the last 20 games of the season when Winnipeg inevitably faces pressure from the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild for a playoff spot?

And, in the short term, can he build on his current hot streak? Scheifele has one goal and three assists in his past five games. The Jets need secondary scoring and they can’t rely on Mathieu Perreault to keep coming up with clutch offensive contributions.