Getty ImagesThe Winnipeg Jets are unequivocally awful. They were awful last year when they couldn't make the playoffs out of the Southeast Division playing exclusively against Eastern Conference teams, and predictably, upon having moved to the West, they are even more awful than they were before. Last year they finished with 53 points in 48 games. As of right now, they're 10 back of that mark in just two fewer games.
This is easily explained: The Southeast is the worst division in North American sports history, and Conference III, despite the number of mediocre-or-worse teams in its ranks, is a tough out for just about any team if only because of the quality of the Blackhawks and Blues. If the Jets were ill-equipped to deal with the Hurricanes and Panthers of the world, and made few substantial personnel changes in any part of the organization over the summer, then their current 8-14-4 record against the Western Conference, including 5-11-3 in their own division, is something to which you could have set your watch on Oct. 1.
Of course, there's not a human alive who could have looked themselves in the face coming into this season and expected anything that even resembled success; that the Jets were 24th in the league entering last night's games seems just about right. You might have even been able to make a reasonable argument that they could have been worse than that.
But all the problems experienced this season — and there have been many — have nonetheless spawned a lot of speculation as to the reasons why they exist, particularly in the last few weeks, as the Jets have gone 3-6-0 in their last nine even as they swing through the East and should, in theory, be in a better position to pick up points.
These reasons have ultimately boiled down to the same kind of thing that partisan observers always blame when they don't care to actually see the real and obvious answers right in front of them: Nebulous nonsense. The Winnipeg Free Press has argued in the last few weeks that the team is now just being defeatist, they're leaving Ondrej Pavelec overly exposed, the team's “leaders” are as much a reason for this as the coach, and Dustin Byfuglien turns the puck over too often. The Winnipeg Sun, meanwhile, posits that the core stinks, they're not doing “the little things,” and they need to play with a more “blue collar” organizational philosophy, like the Bruins.
Refutations of the above points, respectively, should include: “that doesn't matter;” “that also doesn't matter;” “that's not true;” “the positives in Byfuglien's game significantly outweigh the negatives, and I'm sorry about saying 'outweigh' and 'Byfuglien' in the same sentence;” “that also isn't true;” “they're not even doing the big things;” and “the Bruins aren't a blue collar team.
(Actually, that Bruins thing is just mind boggling. They don't have any superstars? Do “the best two-way center alive,” “the best defenseman of his generation,” and “the best goalie in the league” not count?)
And so now, let's take a look at the ways in which the Jets are actually making big old laughingstocks of themselves on the ice.
1) Their goaltending is among the worst in the league.
This is well-trodden territory, obviously, but Ondrej Pavelec is the one of worst starting goalies in the NHL. Among those with 30-plus appearances, his .901 is second only to Devan Dubnyk's .895 in terms of sheer hopelessness.
That they've limited his appearances significantly this season (34 in 46 games, compared with 44 in 48 last season) is wise, because he only continues to get worse; after posting back-to-back subpar seasons of .906 and .905 in 2011-12 and 2013, respectively, he's down below that this year, which is amazing.
The league average save percentage is .913, meaning that Pavelec is 12 points behind where he'd need to be to even be the definition of middle-of-the-road. He's allowed an even 100 goals on 1,011 shots, and a goalie with a league-average save percentage would have stopped an extra 12 of those shots. Given the old standard in “advanced” stats that every six goals' worth of goal differential is worth two points (one win), then we can safely assume that Pavelec has cost the Jets two full wins, or four points in the standings.
With that having been said, the difference between 43 and a theoretical 47 points is obviously not that significant in the grand scheme of things, but 12 additional goals is a big swing. Especially considering the team's goal differential right now is minus-14.
It's worth noting, too, that the Jets are 11th in team offense, but 27th in defense, more or less for this reason.
The thing is, though, that the argument you hear from the many inexplicably remaining Pavelec defenders is that the team plays worse in front of him than they do Al Montoya, and that's why the save percentage is as bad as it is. Which brings us to...
2) They're not improving their possession numbers.
The results in the standings over the last three seasons, all of them spent in Winnipeg, have Read More »from A list of things actually wrong with the Winnipeg Jets (Trending Topics)