Jets Soaring With Excellent Goaltending and Scoring
By Patrick Hoffman
As someone who follows the NHL as a whole, I want the Winnipeg Jets to succeed.
Ever since they moved from Atlanta, I have wanted this franchise to be a playoff team year after year. While it obviously has not turned out that way, it appears that the club is reversing their fortunes and as of this writing (December 19, 2017), have put together a solid start to their season.
In the ever competitive Central Division, the Jets find themselves in third place with 43 points (19-10-5), just three points behind the division-leading Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. While that division is sure to be tough to play in all the way to the end of the regular season, the Jets have shown the rest of the league that they should be taken seriously as playoff contenders.
For the Jets, the success starts from the net out. The 24-year-old masked man Connor Hellebuyck has a stranglehold on the number one goaltending position over Steve Mason, which is not the way it was supposed to be.
In 27 games, Hellebuyck has impressed many with 17-4-0-4 record to go along with a 2.45 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and 2 shutouts. With his strong play, he has earned the trust of head coach Paul Maurice and his teammates and should this keep up through April, could make the Jets a very tough out in the postseason.
The team has also had a lot of offensive production thus far. While he may not lead the team in points, center Mark Scheifele is an absolute stud and is second on the team in points with 34 (15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points). He has a great shot, excellent vision, and can do a lot of different things with the puck.
Leading the team in points with 39 (8 goals and 31 assists) is Blake Wheeler. He's a big body that knows how to move the puck to his teammates while also being able to create time and space for his linemates to get open.
Of course, the team also has 2-year sniper Patrik Laine. Laine leads the team in goals with 16 and is still a threat to put the puck in the net every time he steps on the ice.
Behind those three are the likes of Nikolaj Ehlers (15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points), Kyle Connor (10 goals and 9 assists for 19 points), Mathieu Perreault (9 goals and 10 assists for 19 points), and Bryan Little (5 goals and 14 assists for 19 points). As you can see, this club has a lot of offensive depth and come playoff time, will be extremely useful when goals are harder to come by.
This is an extremely good hockey club, folks. They have the right coach, the right forwards, and the right netminder to be successful the rest of the way.
Hopefully for the Jets and their fans, this happens so that they can get another taste of playoff hockey, the best kind of hockey there is.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.