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Loss to Penguins then win against Stars- what's next?

January 7, 2019, 11:06 PM ET [39 Comments]
Peter Tessier
Winnipeg Jets Blogger •Winnipeg Jets Writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
On Friday night in Pittsburgh the Jets dropped a 4-0 decision to the Penguins in rather uninspiring fashion. Was it 'one of those games' or was it something more? Did the 5-1 win over Dallas do anything to relax concerns around the Jets? What the heck is going to happen against Colorado tomorrow night?

That's the thing with the Jets, even when they do win there's still questions about them.

If fact-based evidence is what you need to soothe your fears then there is probably a lot to emotion for you from one game to the next. But the concern still exist and there's no easy answer to fix them or if there is it's wildly elusive to everyone.

With Ehlers out for 5-6 weeks and Buff only ice-fishing now the Jets are going to have to weather a significant period of time without two key cogs of their team. Ehlers was just starting to find his groove and Buff, well he was being Buff and that's usually good enough for almost anyone. Now without them the team has depth but Joe Morrow is not simply a push from the bottom up, he's a bit of desperation. Had Tucker Poolman not been suffering from concussion symptoms would he be the one to step in?

The good news for the Jets is they managed the Stars well. They controlled possession and really only let up once score effects kicked in. They managed the push back from Dallas after the tying goal but all in controlled the game while scoring goals. Against the Penguins they pushed back hard after going down 2-0 in the first and then 3-0 but score effects works both ways and the Penguins were likely managing the game then.

So let's look at what they have done the last few games then.

4-3 win over Edmonton 55% CF
3-1 loss to the Wild 56% CF
4-1 loss to the Flames 58% CF
1-0 win over Vancouver 44% CF
5-3 win over the Sharks 32.5% CF
4-1 loss to the Kings 54% CF
5-4 win over Tampa Bay 46% CF
4-3 win over Chicago 52% CF

It's sort of like bizarro world and when they lose they do the right things to win and when they win they maybe aren't doing the right thing. Perhaps what many fans are looking for is that 4-1 game where they dominate the game in front of Hellebuyck and in the opposition end. The team though is generally doing the right thing as a whole.

Don't look now but before the 7th the Jets were 10th in the league CF% and tomorrow's opposition is 20th. The Jets are doing the right things except they sure as heck don't look like it. They are 18th in the league for shooting percentage at 7.77% and 12th for save percentage at .921 (all stats 5v5) so they are not even having a PDO run as they sit at .999 or 999.0

Where the concern comes in is with expected goals, the better predictor of success.

So far this season the Jets are slightly below the water line at 49.46% xGF%for 18th overall. Compared to this time last year they were 9th at 51.87 xGF% It's not a lot but it really is. They finished at 52.79% so they can move the needle some more but they need to start soon. However in fairness to skeptics the Capitals were 25th overall at the end of the season. Vegas was 16th.

So when looking at games like Tuesday's versus Colorado it's so hard to predict which team will show up. It's tough to know what to expect with Winnipeg as thing rarely seem to fire on all cylinders, at least that's what it seems like. Maybe the 5-1 win over Dallas was as close to decent as we've seen or perhaps it wasn't.

To convince the skeptics the Jets needs to beat a team of equal talent and success and handily. A 3-1 or 4-2 win over Colorado would probably soothe some fears. The loss the Penguins, the Flames and the surging Wild did nothing to instill confidence. Barely beating the Oiler and Canucks was not helpful either. The win over Tampa Bay was nice but not convincing but remember they are the class of the league. Last year fans saw stretches where the team simply dominated the opposition- has there been a stretch like that this season?

So back to the task- show up play a simple smart game and don't be foolish with the puck. It's really all anyone is looking for but it's harder to do than most of us assume. Against the top teams the Jets have managed to hold off the opposition top scorers reasonably well so far unless your name is Gaudreau. So agains the MacKinnon Rantanen combo what happens? It's the secondary guys who seem to put the Jets into trouble when facing the top teams and there is the concern for tomorrow. The same intensity and effort against all line needs to happen not just preparing for the onslaught from the top line. That's the complete game from all lines and players and that's what every fan is waiting to see happen and with consistency, did it start against Dallas?
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