Connor Hellebuyck has started seven games this season and some of us have hit the panic button on him. Some saying he’s letting in soft goals and some would say he has lost games for the Jets. Which is so laughable to hear. I’ve been watching Hellebuyck this season and I will agree, he has let some soft goals in. Let’s be honest here, every goaltender lets in a softy in every now and then, and they sting for goaltenders. Hellebuyck has made some fabulous saves and has stood on his head for the last three seasons to keep the Jets in games.
I’m here to defend Hellebuyck because he is still an absolute stud and everyone should be in his corner. The start to this season is fairly tough on most, he played four NHL games in nine months. I’m not sure if people were expecting a .950 save percentage or what out of him, but Hellebuyck has never played a season above a .925 save percentage, and the season he did record a .924 save percentage was the 2017-2018 season where the defense was looking pretty great.
I went back and watched all of the goals against Hellebuyck and most of the five-on-five goals are either redirections, second chances or a total lapse in judgement from the defense. There are really only three goals where I can say, “that one would be great to have back.” The ugly one from Tanev at Calgary’s blue line, one from Ottawa’s Nick Paul and one from Draisaitl. Three soft goals in seven games when you are working like crazy to give your team a chance because of the lack of decent defensemen.
Of the North Division goaltenders who have played five or more games, Hellebuyck is second best behind Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, who has a 2.27 goals-against average and Hellebuyck is sitting at a 2.69 goals-against average. Look at Calgary’s defense, they’re not relying on AHL defensemen to help win games.
After his loss to the Flames on Monday night, Hellebuyck broke his stick and when I see that I see guy who cares about the team he plays for. He came and said he believes in the Jets to win the Stanley Cup even though some of us rag on the team that’s in front of him Hellebuyck thinks the Jets can go deep. With him in net and the addition of PLD, I fully believe the Jets could go deep this year. Just looking at the North Division, the only real threat the Jets would have in the playoffs would be the Leafs.
I think he’s doing great work and the people who are being negative against Hellebuyck need to calm down and remember the Jets are in a playoff spot. They’ve played 18 percent of the season and really Hellebuyck should not be the whipping boy of the team. He’s a great goaltender on a decent contract, so relax and enjoy the fact the Jets have one of the best goalies today.