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Change needs to come- here's a starting point

September 7, 2019, 2:38 PM ET [93 Comments]
Peter Tessier
Winnipeg Jets Blogger •Winnipeg Jets Writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
In the last blog there was talk about change, the need for identifying it and what exactly will it mean in a tactical sense for the Jets. More importantly how the responsibility and ownership of change lays at the feet of Paul Maurice, he can either pick it up and embrace or step over and ignore, sticking to his beliefs and conventions?

Thanks to Murat Ates of the Athletic we have two great pieces with thoughts on Maurice. These have been well discussed on social media and Murat has been expanding on his feelings and thoughts around them too.

It's a good time to be a Jets fan now as there is a lot of information coming out. Players are talking after informal skates and there have been quotes from Scheifele, Ehlers, and others around the finish of last year and what changes might be coming this year.

The word chemistry has been used and Scheifele in particular challenged it's measurement by data. It all sounds like some things may not change for the Jets in terms of lines and line mates but we're still a week away from finding out.

When it comes to change what do the Jets specifically need to do to improve upon last season's results to ensure a more balanced style of play?

One stat I like to look at that can lead to some discoveries is from Sean Tierney and his 'pace' graph- see below.



If you look at the top 10 teams in terms of 'pace' which is shot attempts for plus shot attempts again they were split with positive differential vs negative. Of the 5 teams in negative CF vs CA only 2 made the post season and neither went on to the second round. Now that's limited window view not a definitive statement about the value of 'pace' but when it comes the Jets they cannot tread water again in shot differential and expect that their save percentage will be supported by a back-up playing out of his mind when called upon.

Connor Hellebuyck needs to step up to 2018 levels but that's not a change it's an ask.

The real ask for change comes with defense as with Myers and Trouba gone and Pionk and Beaulieu in for the year and likely Sami Niku too, the Jets have to develop a tactical plan to change the look of this:



It's average at best and with a now 8 million per year defenseman gone, and Myers how does it get better? What does the system have to do?

One of obvious and yet simple change would be gap control against the rush. Paul Maurice will site that his team was good against the rush and defending it.

This chart using Corey Sznajder's tacking data suggests the neutral zone might be safe but what happens at the blue line? It's a bit porous and a system that helps tighten it up more should be applied. If it's true that the Jets are competent in the neutral zone as forwards then there should be opportunity to transition back to offense should the defensive structure improve. That's going to help increase shot volume at the opposition net.





What about forwards? There were only 5 players still on the team today who drove play and were not an obvious liability defensively. That has to change but how does that happen?



When using Natural Stat Trick's line tool and looking at Connor, Scheifele, Wheeler, Laine and Ehlers (only 5 players able to be used) there is a significant difference in shot volume depending on players. Often the higher volume combos are not seen for very significant minutes and that begs the question 'why?'.

This chart below shows an interesting divide with the team and one worth looking at.



For all skaters there is a chasm between the two clusters that is populated by Brendan Lemieux. The team is playing a dull conservative game or a more open and wild style. Nothing in the middle and that seems concerning as it may indicate a problem with tactics, deployment, combinations, or all. Again this is a picture that has to change.

Here's a comparison look at the Stanley Cup champions who were dead last in the league on January 1.



It's amazing what a coaching change can do, and that's not to suggest that the physical change of coaches did anything. Its what they might believe in and see...



Now the good news here is the Jets were trending up again while the Blues hung on for dear life come the parts of the playoffs but that was last year and the start of the 2018-19 season was filled with optimism due to the finish the Jets had. Things change quickly and can get out of hadn't fast but St. Louis is the evidence to say that results can also change for the better quickly too. You just have to identify the adjustments to be made.

As training camp comes near it not about chemistry or dynamics it's about understanding what physical, tactical results have to be made to to improve in the creating more offensive opportunities in volume while limiting the opposition's. That's the crux of the issue for Winnipeg and seeing as the roster had a fair bit of exiting and not much inlufx the change has to come from implementing different tactics and then measuring if they work and preparing to adjust again.

Chemistry, as Mark Scheifele likes to say, will come but it will be measured and he may not even know it's there because it could be so natural and effective. Control the blue line, have forwards seeing the exit points sooner and develop combinations that compliment each other for puck control and see what happens.
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