Winnipeg begins December winless in their last three games, but have shown enough upside for fans to be excited about what the rest of the season holds.
The Jets have been a pleasant surprise in the NHL this season. Not that they were expected to be bad, per se, but they have elevated themselves into the conversation of potential division winning teams which was not thought to be the case.
A quarter of the way into the season, the Jets have been able to avoid the injury bug and have had contributions up and down the lineup.
They continue to get fantastic play from Connor Hellebuyck which provides stability to the rest of the team.
A lot has gone right for the Jets which has begged the question, are they for real or is this just a good start to the season?
|To win Stanley Cup
|To win Eastern Conference
|To win Atlantic Division
A lot has gone right for the Jets to be 3rd in the Central Division and 6th in the Western Conference through 22 games. Things have gone right now out of luck though, but plainly because this is a good hockey team.
Before the season started, there were murmurs that star player Mark Scheifele and star goalie Connor Hellebuyck would be traded as they were entering contract years. Just before opening night, they both re-upped in Winnipeg for seven more years.
That news removed distractions and brought stability to what was a somewhat unstable situation in Winnipeg.
Both players have rewarded their front office so far as Scheifele has 24 points in 22 games while Hellebuyck has a .911 save percentage and 2.58 goals against. Those are just a couple of plenty fantastic performances up and down this line-up.
If the Jets can hold to their early season averages, the outlook is positive for them as this season progresses.
They play in an objectively weak Central Division and an objectively weak Western conference. Not only should they be safe in the wild card standings, they can give the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars a run for their money for the division.
Over the last few seasons, the Jets have had a few players who, if they were in a bigger market, would be in superstar discussions.
Kyle Connor quietly is a near career point-per-game player as he has 448 points in 488 games played. In 2021-22, Connor had 47 goals and 93 points in 79 games played. Then followed that up with a 31 goal, 80 point season last year.
Through 22 games this season, Connor has 14 goals and 24 points in 22 games played.
On what has been a good team so far this year, Connor has been arguably the best player.
His 14 goals lead the Jets by 7, his 24 points are tied for the team lead and are 5 clear of the third-highest scorer, he has tallied the most shots on goal on the team by a whopping 30, he has by far the most even strength goals, the second most power play goals, and averages over 20 minutes of ice time per game.
Every team in hockey could use a Kyle Connor. Although he could become a bigger star in a bigger market, which is not very fair to himself or the Jets, it might be for the better that he plays in Winnipeg.
Connor continues to fly under the radar and produce without much pressure.
The past few seasons have been a bit tumultuous for the Jets organization and their fans.
Two seasons ago, head coach Paul Maurice resigned mid-season. Last season, interim head coach Dave Lowry expressed frustrations with the team and ultimately did not come back for the 2023/24 season.
Then this year, there was chatter of blowing up the roster, as well as dissatisfaction with the size of home crowds early on.
It appears that the drama is completely in the rear-view.
Head coach Rick Bowness and this leadership group led by captain Adam Lowry have steered the ship in the right direction. This team looks like they have genuine chemistry and they are having fun playing hockey again.
Fans have rightfully been impatient over the years while talented teams underperformed and drama continued to rear its ugly head.
Despite a current 3-game losing streak, there is no need to pull out the panic button. This is a good, deep team that has shown enough upside to be excited come spring.