Stanley Cup Playoffs Team Preview: Winnipeg Jets

Regular season record: 37-28-6 80pts (4th place Central Division, 9th place in Western Conference)

Today, we’re going to take a look at the Winnipeg Jets heading into the 24 team playoff. The Jets are about where they were statistically a year ago before the global pandemic put a pause on the NHL season. Offensively, the Jets core players of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifle, and Blake Wheeler were producing about what they usually produce. Even Patrik Laine was in the middle of a rebound year compared to the previous season. Laine would’ve surpassed thirty goals and potentially put up around 70-80 points. We know the Jets have the ability to score and put the puck in the back of the net.

Special Teams though is a whole different story. The Jets power play was at the middle of the pack (ranked 15th) with a 20.5% success rate. However, the penalty kill was atrocious. The Jets penalty kill (ranked 22nd) was below eighty percent and had a 77.6% success rate. In order for the Jets to go far, they’re gonna have to greatly improve their special teams.

Goaltending was really rock solid and stellar again. Especially from their number one goalie Connor Hellebuyck. It certainly is possible he could enter the Vezina trophy conversation posting up a 31-21-5 record, 2.57 goals against average, .922 save percentage, and leading the NHL in shutouts with six.  The only question mark goaltending wise for the Jets is their backup Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit has not shown to be a capable backup ready to start when needed in his six seasons so far in the league. Basically, the Jets better hope and pray nothing happens to Connor Hellebuyck.

Defensively, the Jets best defenseman this season was Neil Pionk who they acquired from the New York Rangers in the Jacob Trouba trade. With more ice time and responsibility, he showed improved he is a capable top pairing defenseman. Jack Roslovic was showing major improvement and having a nice season for himself. Josh Morrissey was having another typical solid season. However, Dmitry Kulikov was a weak link on the back end for the Jets. He dealt with injuries and inconsistent play when in the lineup. The Jets went out and acquired Dylan DeMelo to give Morrissey a consistent and reliable defense partner.

Playoff outlook for the Winnipeg Jets

The Jets have the potential to go as far as they want to go. Just two years ago, they made it all the way to the Western Conference finals. They have plenty of offense and great goaltending. Only thing holding them back is their defense. The Jets need a lot of things to go right to win a Stanley Cup. They need their best players to produce, defense to defend, special teams need to improve, and goalie Connor Hellebuyck to help get them all the way to the top of the hockey playoff mountain. Do I think they’ll win the Stanley Cup? I don’t see it happening. However, I do see them going beyond the qualifying round with the potential to make it to the second round.

 

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