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I don’t feel as much angst after seeing the Winnipeg Jets lose 6-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes as much as I did when I saw the Jets lose 5-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. For one, the Hurricanes are a far better team than the Red Wings and unlike the Red Wings had been on quite the hot streak going into the game. Another factor is that I felt the Jets didn’t play all that horribly last night save for some moments in the second period where the Hurricanes kept them pinned in their own zone.

The first period they played the Hurricanes pretty even, the third period they played pretty well, it was just one 20 minute period where it all fell apart on them but even then it still felt like Winnipeg was playing hard, just not getting the breaks needed or playing the near perfect hockey needed to take down Carolina right now.

This wasn’t a bad game, this was just a bad game. Does that make sense?

 

The numbers didn’t work in their favor in this one

If you’ve hang around the Twitter-verse or social media in general you’ve likely seen it suggested that what the Jets have done this season isn’t “sustainable” and there are a few different things that people who suggest that would point to, but one of the biggest is xGF and xGA; expected goals for and against.

(Just in case you need a quick refresher, xGF sort of falls into the same category as Corsi and Fenwick numbers, but the expected stats also take into account types of shots, and where they are being taken, and if they are off a rebound and generally taking into account the odds of scoring a goal and adding them up.)

The Jets xGF numbers this season have been pretty low (not a good thing) and in fact they are near the bottom of the NHL this season which makes sense when you look at how they are middle of the pack in actual goals scored. The Jets haven’t done well to get to high scoring areas, but they haven’t been hurt by it too badly mainly thanks to the shooting talent they do have.

The Jets xGA has been pretty high (definitely not a good thing either) thanks in large part to a defense that gives up a high rate of in close scoring chances, but they’ve been bailed out by goaltending most of this season.

Here’s what’s kind of funny about last night, the Jets had the edge in even strength expected goals by a 2.44 to 1.85 margin. They haven’t managed to have that kind of edge since over a month ago, November 14 against the Panthers. Those weren’t the only numbers in their favor last night either. The Jets were even in 5v5 scoring chancesĀ  and had a 12-10 edge in high danger chances.

If someone was to look at just the stats and not have seen any of the game, they’d maybe assume that the Jets got a bit unlucky and were perhaps goalied a bit and there is an argument to be made for that.

Ultimately what sank the Jets last night was a combination of Connor Hellebuyck not being able to bail out his defense when they broke down in front of him, and a really bad penalty kill.

 

About Hellebuyck…

He didn’t have the best of nights. Looking back at the five goals that got past him, I’d be hard pressed to fault him for all but one of them – that fourth goal was a bit of a breakaway chance where Sebastian Aho beat him and I’m not exactly sure what Hellebuyck was trying to do.

Hellebuyck was victimized by a couple of cross-ice passes that the guys in front of him didn’t defend very well (everyone will point to Neal Pionk on the second goal against – also scored by Aho – but there was a lot of bad puck chasing by all five guys in blue on that play) and then there was the Svechnikov goal where I don’t think he could have done anything better to try and stop that.

Hellebuyck had an off night, but so did a lot of guys in front of him. We just unfortunately saw what happens when Hellebuyck isn’t able to bail out his team repeatedly.

 

The Svechnikov

A couple of things here that I saw floating around online last night that I want to address.

First, it’s “The Svechnikov” ok? It’s no longer “The lacrosse goal” or “The Michigan” as some of my fellow older fans still call it. He’s done it twice now in the span of a month and a half, it’s now called “The Svechnikov” and that’s the end of that debate.

Second, it’s a fine hockey goal. Those of you think this shouldn’t be a legal move, I think you’re all kill-joys. Hockey needs MORE offense, not less of it. We need to find more ways to allow goals to stand. It’s why that stupid offside by a sliver of an inch review is so bad. It’s why we need to regulate goaltenders gear so players aren’t shooting at 6’3″ lanky guys with plywood strapped to their shoulders while wearing a tent for a hockey jersey.

Third, it’s fun to see happen unless it’s your team it’s happening to.

Fourth, yes the refs missed a brutal tripping call that should have been made with Adam Lowry was taken down a few seconds earlier. That part did legit suck. For what it’s worth, I appreciate Lowry taking the high road when asked about the call because as I’ve said before, bad calls happen all the time, but they are only part of the game.

(A great example of this was during the Arizona Coyotes / San Jose Sharks contest later on in the night when the Coyotes were tagged with two very suspicions calls to put them down 5 on 3 in the final minute of the game, but they still held on for the win. Bad calls happen, good teams find ways to overcome them.)