by Brandt Corbin
Now that everything is official, the newly relocated Winnipeg Jets have to focus on some on ice issues, if they intend on getting to the playoffs. Most “experts” say the team is only as few players away from making the post season, but realistically so are the Leafs, Islanders, Hurricanes and Devils. Wholesale changes are not required in the Manitoba Capital, but there are two places the team needs to clean up.
The club last season had the second worst goals against in the entire NHL @ 3.20. Good news if anything is our number one net minder Ondrej Pavelic had a decent 2.73 g.a.a, but even he’d admit that must improve in the long run if the team will be successful. The backup goaltending, that’s a different story. No one will lie, not even Chris Mason. Last year was a complete nightmare for the veteran goaltender. In his two seasons with the St.Louis Blues his goals against average was 2.48. In Atlanta last year it was a staggering 3.39, with an .892 save percentage. We at winnipeghockeyreport.com suggested last week, that it might be in the best interest of the team to bring in some insurance, someone like Josh Harding. Is it even out of the question that a more established veteran comes in?
Where to start. Last year the Thrashers had the 27th ranked penalty kill at 77.5%. Good thing if anything is we’ve got a brand new coaching staff, so you’d assume they have a new philosophy in regards to penalty killing, we can only hope they don’t bring in Tim Hunter (Leafs old specialty team coach).
They were also 26th in the league allowing 32.2 shots on goal per game. Again this number comes back to cleaning up their own end. On more than one occasion last year, the team had allowed more than 50 shots on goal. Unless there are changes this week, it appears the same defensive core will remain in tact. Unfortunately there is no real shutdown defenseman in the current top six, Mark Stuart might be the closest thing but he’s 6th on the depth chart.
Proof is in the pudding, the team when leading after one period of play, blew the lead 50% of the time. When leading after two periods of play, they blew the lead 26% of the time, ranking them 28th. These two area’s go hand in hand. If the shots on goal against and penalty kill improves, the goaltenders have less prime “A” scoring chances to contend with. One would hope when the coaching staff is assembled, these two area’s would become their new number one priority. If they’re not improved, it’s hard to see the Jets making the playoffs.