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The Winnipeg Jets are accustomed to getting out-shot and out-chanced. Nearly every game the Jets are fighting from behind because they give up more chances than they get. Last night’s game was the opposite. The Jets actually generated more shots and more scoring chances than the Avs but their poor defensive zone play was their demise.

Here’s what we can learn from last night’s game against the Avalanche.

1a) The Defense is fine, except for when it isn’t…

It sounds weird, but the Jets actually played decent defense for most of the game against Colorado. They didn’t give up too many scoring chances and did a decent job of getting the puck out of the zone. The main issue with the defense is that they all of a sudden fall apart and give up a goal. It happened repeatedly last night.

Let’s go through a few examples.

Goal number one comes off the stick of Cale Makar. It’s a great individual effort by Makar, but it’s aided by some really suspect defense by Winnipeg. Perreault get’s caught out of position before the cross-ice pass happens. He cheats to the middle of the ice and is caught trying to get back in front of Makar too quickly.

Because he was out of position in the first place, he tries to make up the space with a sliding block. He misses entirely and Makar walks the puck right into the most dangerous area of the ice and beats Hellebuyck.

1b) The Defense’s other lapses

The second goal came on a similar type of mistake. Josh Morrissey went into the corner to help win a puck battle but instead gets caught out of position as both him and Poolman miss the pass. Scheifele completely misses his man as well as he’s too busy daydreaming about pizzapizza. Mackinnon steals the puck and now both Morrissey and Scheifele are caught behind the play and hoping to catch up. Connor does his best to help, but his half-hearted poke check does nothing to stop the play. The end result is a wide open shot from one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the league.

The third goal also wasn’t pretty as Kulikov went for a line change instead of slowing down Mackinnon. Sbisa barely got onto the ice by the time Mackinnon put the puck into the net.

As mentioned above, the Jets actually played decent defense, but their horrendous lapses cost them the game.

2) The Jets Finally Out-shot someone

Despite the score, the Jets actually played a really good game. They out-shot and out-chanced Colorado for most of the game. When looking at the forward lines, the top three lines all played really well and the fourth line was the opposite. Let’s start with the bad, the fourth line had a CF% of 25% and an xGF% of just 13.54%. Yikes…

On the other hand, the rest of the team dominated as you can see by the following chart.

The top line had a ridiculous stat line of a CF% of 84% and an xGF% of 69.59%. Those are absolutely dominant numbers. The second line was only slightly behind as they posted a phenomenal CF% of 73.68% and an xGF% of 61.17%. The third line didn’t want to be left out as they also posted a great stat line with a CF% of 66.67% and an xGF% of 62.45.

Those are all excellent numbers and the Jets will win far more games than they lose if they continue to dominate the shot attempts each game.

3) If only the Jets had a smooth skating defensmen…

One thing that became apparent during the game was the Avalanche’s willingness to have their defense involved in the play. The Jets got beat on the first goal after Makar made a great cut into the middle of the ice into the prime scoring areas. It made me wish Winnipeg had a young, smooth skating defensemen with a natural scoring ability… wait, hold on a second.

We have just the guy! Except he’s currently tearing apart lesser competition in the AHL. Not sure why he’s still with the Moose considering he has nothing left to prove in the AHL. While the bulk of the conversation will be saved for another post, the takeaway is that Winnipeg needs Niku in the lineup because they still need help on the back-end.