The Winnipeg Jets have been falling like a rock in the standings. The good news for Winnipeg fans is that despite their poor record over the last month and a half, they still own a spot in the playoffs due to the lack of parody in the Western Conference. The Jets will likely either have a second Wild Card spot, or in an unlikely scenario, the third spot in the Central Division.
Here’s a look at where the Winnipeg Jets stand as they contend for the NHL playoffs
If anyone had any doubts that Kyle Connor was a true top line forward before this season, he’s proved them wrong and then some. Not even the Winnipeg Jets projected Connor as a point-per-game player when he was drafted. However, behind playing with talented linemates like Pierre Luc-Dubois, Connor has been able to put the puck in the net more than consistently.
The Winnipeg Jets don’t have much depth in their forward group, but they make up for it with experience. Players like Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Adam Lowry have been playing alongside each other for more than half a decade. Despite each one of them not being world stoppers, the players, together with the experience they have made up for it, and the Jets’ second line have been one of the most productive of the season.
The Winnipeg Jets forward and defensive group are polar opposites. The Jets’ six defensemen each lead the team in defensive point shares. Aside from Josh Morrissey, none of them are at the top in offensive point shares. This means that the Jets almost exclusively let their forwards attack their d men defend.
That strategy has had its drawbacks this season. On paper, the Winnipeg Jets should have one of the best blue lines in the entire league, but in the last month it hasn’t panned out that way. The Jets have struggled to limit opposition scoring chances, which has led to a goal deficiency. The Jets rely far too much on bruisers like Logan Stanley and Kyle Copobianco in their lineup, who both rank bottom of their team in total defense.
Connor Hellebuyck is officially back. The Winnipeg Jets netminder is playing some of the best hockey he’s ever played in his entire career. Hellebuyck has been a workhorse goalie for the Jets, starting in 55 of the team’s 72 games. Hellebuyck has a .918 save percentage and a GAA of just over two-and-a-half. With only a win total of 31, that means that the Jets need to be playing better D in front of their netminder.
The Jets have a perfectly serviceable backup in David Rittich, who, when counted on, has performed well for Winnipeg. He probably isn’t the name that fans would feel confident in turning to if Hellebuyck got injured or struggled in the playoffs, but he is reliable in short spurts.