|RW Blake Wheeler
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 47 | PTS: 64
SOG: 208 | +/-: 3
|G Ondrej Pavelec
GAA: 2.91 | SVP: 0.906
|RW Spencer Machacek
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 9
SOG: 12 | +/-: 8
|Leading scorer Blake Wheeler managed only seven points in his first 18 games and did not score his first goal until Nov. 17.|
The Jets never figured out how to string together wins away from their raucous home crowds, and their 14-22-5 road record included losses to non-playoff teams Columbus, Montreal (twice), and Toronto (twice). That road play, especially when coupled with home losses to Edmonton, Montreal, and the New York Islanders (twice), doomed the Jets’ playoff hopes. Winnipeg’s habit of playing up to or down to the level of its competition frustrated coach Claude Noel.
How to fix it?
The organization has missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons and fallen far short of its franchise-high 97-point effort in the 2006-07 campaign, the only postseason berth in club history. Several key players – Nik Antropov, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Bryan Little, and Jim Slater – have spent several years with an organization that has struggled to move much beyond the 80-point mark. Club management has emphasized its commitment to patience and long-term development, but does general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff need to move out some key pieces of the Winnipeg dressing room if the Jets are to escape their near-.500 purgatory?
Three reasons for hope:
1. Pavelec made significant progress in establishing himself as a No. 1 goaltender capable of holding the Jets in games, even when the club’s attention to defensively-responsible play wavered.
2. The Jets struggled to surround Evander Kane with established top-six forwards, and he clashed with Noel at times, but the third-year forward increased his goal output from 19 to 30.
3. Defenseman Zach Bogosian reduced many of the inconsistencies in his game in his first season working with new assistant coach Charlie Huddy. Bogosian will be just 22 years old when he begins his fifth NHL season and figures to anchor the Winnipeg blue line.