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Jets Check-In: Quarter Season Recap

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The Winnipeg Jets have completed just over one-quarter of their 56-game regular season and so far rank third in the North Division with a record of 9–5–1.

There’s been a lot going on this year. The start of the season has featured a blockbuster trade featuring Patrik Laine, a number of games against the Tkachuk brothers, and several head-to-head battles with NHL all-stars Austin Matthews and Connor McDavid.

The Jets currently sit in a good position, but to remain competitive they’ll need to focus on three key areas.

First, the team has lost three games in the final two minutes of regulation time. In a season where every game is played against a divisional opponent, the Jets should be looking for ways to more strongly close out games.

“Any team can score in any given moment,” said Mark Scheifele in a recent interview. “You can’t give them those chances. You have to stay focused right till the buzzer and that’s the biggest thing. You can’t lose focus.”

Scheifele was answering a question about the team’s late-game blunder against the Ottawa Senators on February 14.

Head coach Paul Maurice described the same incident as a “gaffe.”

These types of mistakes happen, but they cannot happen this often. If the Jets were to miss the playoffs, they might be looking back at games like the Valentine’s Day loss to the Senators. These are the points that got away from them.

Second, it’s noteworthy that defenceman Logan Stanley has outperformed many expectations to start this season. He has averaged 11:46 of ice time through 13 games, allowing only three even-strength goals against.

Stanley appears to be the seventh defenceman on the depth chart this season. However, he looks to be on the cusp of earning a full-time role after being drafted eighteenth overall in 2015. The Jets need to find a way to utilize him.

Finally, the Jets are getting highly coveted depth-scoring from their bottom six forwards. The likes of Perrault, Harkins, Lowry, Appleton, Lewis, Vesalainen, Gustafsson, and Thompson have scored a combined 10 goals this season, 29 percent of the even-strength goals scored by Jets forwards.

Adding a healthy Pierre Luc-Dubois will push a top-six winger down to the bottom six and further increase their depth-scoring. The Jets need to continue getting production from the bottom six forwards and earning the trust of Maurice.

So far in the 2021 campaign, it’s clear that the extended off-season combined with no exhibition games has resulted in a lot of sloppy, unstructured, and high-scoring games. The first 25 percent of the season has been exciting, but the Jets should be looking for improved defensive structure and consistency throughout the remaining season—and then, hopefully, into the playoffs.

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