Winnipeg Jets' Early-Season Grade

By Sean Sarcu
Winnipeg Jets' Early-Season Grade
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The Winnipeg Jets have been one of the Western Conference’s pleasant surprises in the early going. Playing in the NHL‘s best division, the Jets have managed to scrap their way to a strong 14-9-4 record that significantly exceeds what was expected from them. Better yet, Winnipeg has done most of its damage away from home, suggesting that the team’s success through 27 games may very well be sustainable.

Advanced statistics have labeled Winnipeg as a decidedly average team for years, but the Jets have taken a step forward in that respect this year. Winnipeg ranks just outside the top-10 in corsi for percentage, with the numbers indicating that the team tends to out-possess its opponents more often than not.

Andrew Ladd, one of the league’s more underrated players, is having another excellent season. Ondrej Pavelec has been a revelation in net, turning aside 92% of shots he’s seen this season despite eclipsing a 90.6% save percentage just once before in his career. The Jets have been one of the league’s best defensive teams, ranking fourth in goals against per game and boasting some incredibly impressive performances along the way, including a 1-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks on the road.

Making the playoffs in the West is no easy feat. Winnipeg currently occupies the final wild card spot, but the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild are nipping on its heels. Still, even the most optimistic prognosticator wouldn’t have thought to place the Jets in this promising a position 33% of the way through the season. Winnipeg’s play so far is worthy of an A-.

Sean Sarcu is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.

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