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Getting to know the Western Conference Playoff Teams: The Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck
Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
17 days ago
The chances that the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers meet in the playoffs are miniscule, but you have to imagine the Oilers would like to get their revenge on the team that beat them in the 2021 playoffs.
Back in 2021, the Oilers were swept by the Jets in what were actually close games. However, it wasted a fantastic season by Connor McDavid, where he had 105 points in just 56 games. Well, both teams will make the playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons.
The Jets currently have 106 points for second in the Central Division. With a win, the Jets will clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs as the Colorado Avalanche have 105 points with a game remaining (compared to Winnipeg’s two games).
Let’s look at what makes the Jets tick, looking at their offence, defence, and goaltending.

Scoring by committee offence

The Jets don’t have a true superstar up front. The closest thing is their first line centre, Mark Scheifele who has 25 goals and 70 points this season. He is flanked by the best winger, Kyle Connor, as well as Gabriel Vilardi. Connor has spent time injured this season, but has 32 goals and 59 points, while Vilardi (acquired in the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade) has 21 goals and 35 points for the Jets.
Before the trade deadline, the Jets made a handful of moves, including trading their first for their second line centre, Sean Monahan, as well as a second and third-round pick for Tyler Toffoli. Monahan has 13 goals and 24 points with the Jets in 32 games (25 goals, 59 points), while Toffoli has six goals and nine points in 16 games for the Jets (32 goals, 53 points). On the left side is Nikolaj Ehlers, who has 24 goals and 59 points this season.
Their third line is composed by one of the most underrated third-line centres in the league, Adam Lowry, who has 12 goals and 35 points in 80 games in his first season as the Jets captain. On his sides are Nino Niederreiter, who has 18 goals and 33 points this season, along with Mason Appleton, who has 14 goals and 35 points.
Winnipeg’s fourth line also has some talent, as it is centred by Vladislav Namestnikov, who has 11 goals and 37 points. On his left wing is Morgan Barron, who has 11 goals and 18 points, while Alex Iafallo is on his right side with 11 goals and 26 points.
These are just the players listed on Daily Faceoff’s daily lineup tool. Of course, they also have Cole Perfetti, who has 17 goals and 36 points (because all Jets players have points somewhere in the 30s). He can fill in at centre or on the wing.

The Jets have a strong defence core

One aspect of the Jets that has remained strong since their return to Canada is their defence core. Back in the 2014-15 season for example, they  had Tyler Myers, Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Ben Chairot, and Zach Bogosian.
Fast forward nine seasons, and it’s still one of the strongest defence cores in the league. Josh Morrissey has quietly become a top 10 defender in the league, scoring 10 goals and 67 points, with the latter being the eighth-most for defencemen in the league. On Morrissey’s right is Dylan DeMelo, who has three goals and 31 points.
The Jets second pairing consists of Brenden Dillion and Neal Pionk. The former has eight goals and 20 points, while Pionk has five goals and 31 points in 80 games this season. Their third pairing consists of Logan Stanley, who has played just 23 games this season, along with Dylan Samberg, who has a goal and 18 points.
Depth options for the team includes Colin Miller, who they traded for at the deadline, as well as Nate Schmidt, who has two goals and 13 points in the 62 games he’s played this season.
The one big difference between the 2014-15 team and this team is the fact that on top of a strong defence, the Jets have the best goaltender in the league on this team.

Connor Hellebuyck is the best netminder in the league

Surprisingly, Connor Hellbuyck’s mantle is pretty empty, winning just one Vezina Trophy in his career, back in 2019-20 when he had a .922 save percentage and a 2.57 goals-against average.
Well, he’s been even better this season, posting a .922 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average in 59 games played, along with a 36-19-4 record. His goals-against average ranks fourth in the league, behind Anthony Stolarz (26 games played), Pyotr Kochetkov (42 games played) and Sergei Bobrovsky (58 games) played.
As for his save percentage, the only qualified goaltender with a higher save percentage is Stolarz, who once again, has just 26 games played. Now, you may say that Hellebuyck is the clear frontrunner for Veznia, which is absolutely true. 
However, it appears that Hellebuyck and the Jets’ backup, Laurent Brossoit, will fall short of picking up the William H. Jennings Trophy. So far this season, the Jets have given up 194 goals, the fewest in the league (Florida has 198 goals against). However, with just two games remaining, the maximum number of games Brossoit can play is 24 games, meaning that the trophy will end up with Stolarz, Bobrovsky, and the Florida Panthers.
Still, Brossoit is the perfect backup tendy, as he has a .928 save percentage and a 2 goals-against average in 22 games played this season.

Wrapping up

The Jets are a well balanced team. While they lack a superstar like the Edmonton Oilers, or the Colorado Avalanche, who they’ll play in the first round, they’re a team that can score by committee.
Still, it appears unlikely that the Jets and the Oilers will meet in the playoffs, as the Jets will have their hands full with Colorado, and if they win that, they’ll likely play the Dallas Stars or the Vegas Golden Knights.
Of course, Edmonton will have their own battles to face on the Pacific side of things, with a first round matchup set against the Los Angeles Kings or the Vegas Golden Knights, before likely playing the Vancouver Canucks in the second round.
Still, a battle between two Canadian teams in the Western Conference Finals will be high drama, and we’re all for it!
If you enjoy my content, you can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.

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