The Jets Soar in November

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November was a very content month for Jets fans, although some may find themselves a little jetlagged. With four of the team’s 12 games taking place after 9:00 p.m., late nights certainly became a factor in many people’s daily lives. Whether or not you’re a coffee drinker, the young, fast-paced Jets were hopefully enough to keep you awake. 

The Jets carried their hot start through November, going 8–3–1 in their first 12 games and ending up at 12–6–3. They now find themselves sitting second in the central division, four points behind the division-leading Blues, having relied on a solid power play and the extraordinary play of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. Quick starts have also been vital to the Jets’ success, as the team leads the league in first-period goals, outscoring their opponents 30–18 in the opening frame. They are 11–1–2 when they open the scoring. 

Last month, we talked about shot attempt percentage and how it could affect the Jets if they didn’t clean up that part of their game. Well, they only marginally improved their shot attempt percentage from a dismal 45 percent to a slightly more respectable 49 percent.

But the analytics department isn’t the only place where the Jets improved; they also saw a welcome improvement in depth scoring throughout their lineup. For a team that in large part counts on offensive production from its top six to score goals, the recent play of Kyle Connor and Joel Armia have been pleasant surprises for Coach Paul Maurice.

Armia, who was acquired in the Evander Kane deal back in 2015, has developed into a solid shutdown winger, with a little offensive flare. This year, he’s used his size and puck-handling ability to his advantage, and he’s begun to see time on the power play. He’s also been a shutdown penalty killer who already has one shorthanded goal this season.

Connor, who was called upon after Mathieu Perrault was injured in October, put up 12 points through his first 18 games. Spending most of his time on the top line with Mark Scheifele (11 goals, 14 assists) and Blake Wheeler (5 goals, 20 assists), the 20-year-old winger has used his speed to create space for the two superstars, who themselves have amassed a combined 50 points. 

Perrault, who slotted back into the lineup on November 16 to face the Flyers, found himself in the middle of controversy after Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas appeared to intentionally slash the Jets winger in the back of the neck. Gudas, who received a five-minute-major and game misconduct, was subsequently suspended for ten games due to this play. Gudas aside, Perrault has also been able to find the scoresheet, as the Quebec native has put up six points in six games since returning. Perrault has also been one of the Jets’ most efficient forwards at even strength.

As a team, the Jets have been just okay at even strength, having scored the fifteenth most goals while at even strength. On the power play, however, the Jets are a whole different beast. Currently clicking at 23.7 percent, the Jets have the sixth best power play in the NHL, and Dustin Byfuglien has yet to score a goal. Led by Patrik Laine’s six power play goals, the Jets have been lethal with the power play in November, scoring on 33.3 percent of their opportunities.

Speaking of percentages, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck also continued his fantastic start, but his numbers have dipped a bit. Despite this, the 24-year-old American still went 6–2–1 in November, posting a .918 save percentage, alongside a 2.66 goals against average. Hellebuyck’s play will be key to the Jets’ success in the coming weeks, as Steve Mason could miss some time with an upper-body injury after leaving mid-game against San Jose.

Mason wasn’t the only player to suffer an injury in November, as veteran defenseman Tobias Enstrom also suffered a lower body injury and isn’t expected back until mid-January. This opens the door for 24-year-old prospect Tucker Poolman to try and find a permanent spot on the blue line. It also gives long-time Jet Ben Chariot a chance to secure a spot on the team.

Heading into December, there’s no doubt the Jets are happy with the position they’re in. The team welcomes the newborn Vegas Golden Knights to Bell MTS Place on December 1 and will look to bounce back after suffering a 5–2 loss to the Golden Knights earlier in November.

Time until next issue
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