Winnipeg Jets: Is It Chemistry, Bad Players, Or The Coach?

The Winnipeg Jets seem to be moving in the wrong direction – 

A 7-0 beat-down at the hands of the Nashville Predators continued a move in the wrong direction for the Winnipeg Jets.  While I believe this started a few games ago, let’s first see if we can define who is at fault for this tailspin.

Is it Head Coach Paul Maurice?

There has been lots of speculation on twitter that the new systems Maurice has implemented are causing all the breakdowns.  Also put out there was that the Jets looked like a team that had quit on their coach.

Obviously to teach them a lesson, Maurice put a bunch of them in the penalty box then shamed them by making them all come out together and skate over to the bench.

Just kidding obviously, but we have to learn to laugh in dire times.  It’s just a game.

Now, getting back to the coach being the problem.  There may be some truth to new systems contributing to the Winnipeg Jets play but these are professional players who’ve played many systems over the course of their lives.  I have trouble attaching too much to that.  As for quitting on the coach, I don’t believe it.  That happens over a period of time.  The signs just haven’t been there.

When Maurice was initially hired, I was admittedly skeptical due to decades of watching him coach all the way back to junior but I was reminded at the time he was a smart guy and had been in Russia and was hopefully improved.  That, thankfully, turned out to be true.  Maurice moulded the group into a cohesive unit that played the right way most nights ending in a well-deserved playoff spot last year.  He hasn’t forgotten how to coach so throw that out.

As for bad players, I predicted during last year’s stretch run that THAT club might be the best we’d see for the next few years.  The reason I said that was because it looked like a one-off where Chevy took a shot and he’d get back to the youth movement in the summer.  Remember that Jiri Tlusty was a second-line talent playing on the fourth line.  That was true depth and was going to be difficult to reproduce unless he resigned Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty which obviously didn’t happen.

The injection of Nik Ehlers and Andrew Copp seemed to be enough, at least when there are no injuries, and Jets have been reasonably fortunate that they haven’t had to reach too far into their depth department.  So far!  However during this slump, the bottom six forwards have struggled and at the same time as the goals have dried up on the second line.  That’s a bad combination but there’s still enough talent to compete every night.  The defence and goalies are the same.

If the players are good enough is it chemistry?

When the Jets started the eight out of nine games on the road stretch in Columbus, they had just come off a big win at home against Chicago.  Their wins against Columbus and Toronto were sandwiched by a dismal performance in Montreal.  For me, this is where the dive first started.  I put out on twitter that I wasn’t that impressed in the two wins, eventually settling on the words “slightly better” than the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Initially, I was confronted by the underlying metrics in the two wins which I was aware of but didn’t put as much stock into because of some oddities I had seen.

Full disclosure; I usually check in to the “advanced numbers” after every period and I thought both games had numbers that were a bit skewed in the Winnipeg Jets favor during those games.  That is a blog on its own but quite frankly out of the norm for me.  A huge majority of the time I find the numbers dead on to what I’ve watched which gives me confidence when I’m not able to watch a game.  I can look at the metrics and get a grasp on how well a team is playing.

Anyway, that’s where I thought the dive started.  It’s about this time when I started appealing for a reuniting of the Scheifele-Perrault-Wheeler line.  I’m sure many thought I was thinking of myself and the bet Ryan Blight (@arby18 on twitter) and I have.  Basically, Scheifele needs 55 points for me to win and he is falling fast.  My thinking is this … Ladd and Little can play with anyone and they’ll figure out how to get the most out of Ehlers.  I liked what Perreault-Scheifele-Wheeler did in the past.  The breakup has to happen every year, then later on when the Jets stall, they’ll reunite LLW and take off again.  

The bottom six is struggling.  The Lowry line has put in tough minutes playing against top players so I can’t point my finger at anyone but there has to be a better combination or deployment has to change.

The defence is the same as last years tight-knit group but it has suddenly regressed into Claude Noel’s non-awareness six-pack.  Terrible coverage, breakaways, you name it, but the names haven’t changed to protect the innocent.  So what gives?  Of course twitter has an answer and some say it’s Charlie Huddy who seems to be able to stay clear of the limelight.

Where is the quick movement of the puck on the power play from earlier when they looked awesome?  What’s with all the puck battles being lost?  What’s with all the lost looks on the player’s faces?

Confidence is clearly an issue here.  Mathieu Perreault lost his a few games ago. We aren’t seeing the dynamic play he’s known for and so many others, not as talented, are in the same boat.

Is it chemistry?  It doesn’t matter because they better get it right quick.  St. Louis Blues are licking their chops.

The good news is that the Blues may be the perfect team to get the Jets back on their game.

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Scott Campbell (26 Posts)


Comments

  1. Todd Leroux says:

    Interesting and thought-provoking read.

    I agree with everything stated, but that may partly be due to the fact that I don’t understand the phenomena under scrutiny well enough (i.e. I don’t know my arse from a hole in the ground re: advanced hockey knowledge).

    From my limited viewing (work is the scourge of the hockey-watching class), I have seen a real disconnect between the forwards and d-men.

    Further, players are under-performing – plain and simple. Whether this is all due to a perfect mitigating storm of player – coaches – systems…I have no idea.

    As mentioned in the article, this is not solely due to a Central division Mt. Everest, so ‘adjustments’ (to be polite) would seem to be in order; and not with a finger conveniently pointed at Chiarot, Peluso, or Postma.

    A team in transition that hasn’t transitioned, recently, in the right direction.

    All this team stuff, and I wonder, yet again, what will happen with Ladd and Buff: from this recent past, not-too-distant future and X-mas?

    If I can’t enjoy the games, then I’ll try to enjoy the intrigue and speculation.

    IMO.

  2. Scott Campbell says:

    I hear you Todd. Well said. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Without looking up past stats, I feel that there are a couple of issues. First of all, the Jets haven’t been and are not a high scoring team. Last season when we were hit with a lot of injuries to the defence, the rest of the team was able to gut it out and win the many low scoring games.

    This season, they aren’t winning those games. The defence isn’t there and the opposition are scoring more goals. In the meanwhile, we are still a low scoring team and the results are obvious.

    One more item – to me it seems like the power play is predictable. Get the puck back to Buff and he booms a shot into the goalie’s pads or off the net. My personal method of following the team is off the TSN internet radio feed as I don’t have TV coverage. It feel that I often hear the play by play voice repeating over and over and over again, the shot missed the net – especially the guys depend on (Trouba / Buff). We don’t have a big shooter like Seguin or a Kane (the other one) or an Ovechkin to bail us out when we need a goal. It’s a team effort and that doesn’t seem to be there like it was last year.

    • Mitch Kasprick says:

      I agree with a lot of this & what I find interesting is that even though on paper the numbers say that Buff/Toby are a good defence pairing they along with the rest of this team look like Claude Noel’s Jets. It makes no sense that the Jets were winning with Harrison, Pardy, Chiarot in the line-up but they were.

      • Todd Leroux says:

        I think Harrison is really under-rated. I wonder if the game has increased in speed enough this year to have passed him by – no pun intended.

        Would like to see how he does.

    • Scott Campbell says:

      Agree with a bunch too Jimbob. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Sean Gange says:

    The most noticeable thing for me is the drop in the number of hits delivered. They aren’t forechecking as hard as they were last season and they always seem to be two strides away from a hit. Opposition passes come out easier and the neutral zone is wide open (except when Stu crosses into his partner’s side of the ice a no-no). Slap Buff with Toby and they are both pinching at the same time. But the hitting…where’s the hitting?

    • Mitch Kasprick says:

      I also noticed that the Jets seem to be 1/2 step behind on the forecheck … we know they have the quickness so what’s going on?

    • Scott Campbell says:

      the consistency and overall quickness isn’t there for sure Sean. Thanks for reading.

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