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Winnipeg Jets season snapshot

Scheifele, Connor, Hellebuyck have helped offset losses at defenseman

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

With the NHL pausing the 2019-20 regular season on March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus, NHL.com is taking stock of each of the League's 31 teams.

Today, a snapshot of the Winnipeg Jets at the pause:

 

Winnipeg Jets

Record: 37-28-6, 80 points

Playoff position: First wild card into Stanley Cup Playoffs from Western Conference, two points ahead of Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks

The outlook for the Winnipeg Jets was not rosy, given the roster turnover at defenseman, but they have remained in or near a playoff position all season.

Jacob Trouba was traded (New York Rangers), Tyler Myers (Vancouver Canucks) and Ben Chiarot (Montreal Canadiens) signed elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent, and Dustin Byfuglien was granted a personal leave of absence on the eve of training camp. 

The Jets had to rely on a revamped group of defensemen led by Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk, who arrived in the Trouba trade. Dylan DeMelo (acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 18), Dmitry Kulikov, Tucker Poolman, Nathan Beaulieu, Luca Sbisa, and Anthony Bitetto have played significant minutes for Winnipeg, which is 10th in the NHL at 2.83 goals allowed per game.

 

More Jets season snapshot coverage: Awards | Fantasy honors | Memorable moments

 

Some credit for that goes to goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who is 31-21-5 with a 2.57 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and leads the NHL with six shutouts. He has faced the most shots (1,796), has made the second-most starts (56, two behind Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens) and is second in wins (four behind Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning).

Winnipeg went 13-3-2 from Nov. 1-Dec. 10 but sagged to 3-8-1 in January, including five straight losses when injuries began to pile up.

The Jets have lost 324 man-games to injury (which does not include Byfuglien), but when injured players returned in February, including Beaulieu (14 games missed, lower body), Poolman (12 games, lower body), forward Adam Lowry (20 games, upper body) and forwardMathieu Perreault (16 games, upper body), the Jets were 12-5-2 from Feb. 1 until the pause.

Forwards Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor lead the Jets with 73 points each. Scheifele has 29 goals and 44 assists in 71 games and is bidding for a fourth straight season as a point-per-game player. Connor leads the Jets with 38 goals, already his NHL career high and his third straight season with at least 30.

Video: Season Snapshot: Winnipeg Jets

 

Breakout player

Neal Pionk: The 24-year-old has been versatile and valuable, leading Jets skaters with 23:23 of ice time per game. He has played on the first power-play unit most of the season and has 45 points (six goals, 39 assists) in 71 games in his second full NHL season. He had 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 73 games with the Rangers last season after splitting 2017-18 between New York and Hartford of the American Hockey League. Pionk was traded to the Jets with a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft (Ville Heinola) for Trouba on June 17, 2019.

Video: Top 10 Jets Plays ... Thus Far

 

Statement win

Jets 3, Washington Capitals 0, Feb. 27: Hellebuyck made 34 saves, and Kulikov, Connor and Scheifele scored to shut out the Capitals at Bell MTS Place. It was a big momentum boost for the Jets, beginning a 5-1-0 stretch two days after a 4-3 shootout loss at Washington that they trailed 3-0.

Video: Hellebuyck, Scheifele lead Jets to 3-0 shutout win

 

Most compelling game

Jets 5, New Jersey Devils 4 (SO), Oct. 4: Down 4-0 in the final minute of the second period, the Jets rallied with goals by Kulikov, Jack Roslovic, Perreault and Pionk by 12:35 of the third period, then won the game with Blake Wheeler's goal in the fourth round of the shootout.

Video: Jets storm back to defeat Devils in the shootout

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