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Winnipeg Jets Special Teams Will Decide How Far They Go

The Jets special teams have been a thorn in their side all year. It could be what ruins their chances in the playoffs. The Winnipeg Jets are destined for a head-on collision with the best of the Central Division. A lot has been made about how the Jets will face against the speed of the Colorado Avalanche or the depth of the Dallas Stars. However, special teams will ultimately decide whether the Jets go on a long playoff run. The majority of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are played at 5-on-5 where the Winnipeg Jets thrive. But the glaring differences between the three Central Division teams lie in the special teams. The Stars and Avalanche both possess top-ten power plays (sixth and fifth) and penalty kills (eighth and ninth), respectively, according to While the Jets rank 22nd on the power play and 21st on the penalty kill.

Discussing the Power Play

The Stars and Avalanche both move the puck and enter the zone well on the power play. The Avalanche have speed demons Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar who make entering the zone an absolute breeze. The key to a successful power play is maintaining possession. Once the unit is set up it is extremely hard for the penalty killers to get the puck back. The Stars first unit is not blazing with speed but they have multiple hulking players who strive at regaining possession back. The Jets on the other hand have some speed and some size but do not thrive in either. Kyle Connor has speed but is not able to consistently enter the zone.

The Jets have two exceptional power play players. Sean Monahan thrives in the bumper spot and can create chances out of thin air. Gabriel Vilardi is a wizard at dragging defenders down low and still making plays in inches of space. These two players give the Winnipeg Jets power play some life. Unfortunately, just like the Jets special teams, the rest of the unit is lacking.

The Jets just don’t have the guns to compete with top power play units. Josh Morrissey is a puck-moving specialist in his own end. But he has not been successful as a power play quarterback. While Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele are more one-trick-ponies than anything. Connor only takes long-distance one-timers that only a sniper like Alex Ovechkin can score. Which leads to a ton of low-quality chances. Scheifele on the other hand is not a threat to shoot and only has one move; pass to Monahan. This makes Scheifele easy to predict. The power play will need to use more of Vilardi and Monahan in order to complete with the Central Division’s best.

Briefly Touching on the Penalty Kill

The Winnipeg Jets penalty kill has been timid and a turnstyle at the blue line. The exact opposite of how the team plays at 5-on-5. The Jets let the opposition fly into the offensive zone. Plus when a team has possession they just back off completely. The Jets patient philosophy has been picked apart all season and likely will not change against two top notch power plays.

As briefly mentioned above Colorado runs their power play through speed which could be a deadly combination with Winnipeg’s lack of aggression. While Dallas’ puck possession strength on the power play is not good with how passive Winnipeg plays. The best penalty killer on a team always need to be the goaltender. The Winnipeg Jets have the added benefit of having the perhaps the best goalie in all of hockey in Connor Hellebuyck. If Hellebuyck is on his A-game he will cover a lot of the special team’s deficiencies. But even that is a massive ask for the all-world goaltender.

Jets Special Teams Will Be the Difference Between a Win or Loss

The Winnipeg Jets special teams have struggled mightily all season while Dallas and Colorado’s has thrived. This is a recipe for disaster for the Jets. Fortunately for the Winnipeg Jets, the majority of the playoffs are played at even strength. Which should ease some concern. However, in super close games a timely power play or penalty can turn a playoff game on its head.

Main photo: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports


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