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Jets Need Scheifele To Continue Elevating His Game

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Jets Scheifele Crop
Scheifele takes a faceoff. Dan Hoeppner

The past month has been a disaster for the Winnipeg Jets, with only six wins in 15 games. Once sitting comfortably in third place in the Central Division, today the Jets find themselves in eighth place in the conference and fighting to stay in the second wild card playoff spot.

One of the lone bright spots over the past month has been Scheifele, who has elevated his game by scoring eight goals and notching 12 assists for a total of 20 points, ranking eighth in the NHL. He has demonstrated that his hockey acumen and skills make the Jets a better team, and the Jets need him to continue to improve his play in three key areas.

First, he possesses an elite shot, scoring on 20 percent of shots this season. Scheifele’s shooting percentage ranks fourth in the league this year (among players with at least 20 shots). With such an effective shot, Scheifele needs to shoot more. He has only taken 110 shots this season, ranking ninety-eighth in the league. If the Jets are going to stay in a playoff spot, Scheifele needs to increase his average of 2.3 shots per game.

Secondly, an improvement in the faceoff circle could help Scheifele, Connor, and Laine become a more dangerous and well-rounded line. Scheifele has won only 46.8 per cent of his faceoffs this year, ranking 109th in the league among centres who have taken at least 100 faceoffs. An increase in Scheifele’s faceoff win percentage would increase the offense produced from his line and help to improve the defensive play of the team by forcing the opponent’s top six forwards to play more defence.

Finally, Scheifele needs to focus on driving play and playing a better defensive game. His line is often called upon to play against the opponent’s top six forwards, but when Scheifele is on the ice the Jets only account for 46 per cent of shot attempts; he ranks 144th among active centres in the league. This percentage drops to 43.2 per cent when the Jets are playing with the lead. Driving play and playing offense is the best form of defence and will help the Jets win hockey games in the second half of the season.

The entire team needs to play better if they are going to make the playoffs. They have a chance to string together wins and lock down a playoff spot if Scheifele continues to elevate his game and focuses on shooting more, winning more faceoffs, and playing a better defensive game.

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