A final Jets report card

By: Adam Wazny | Thursday, April 25

Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel shows his disappointment over the team's loss to the Montreal Canadiens on April 25. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

So, that's it. The Winnipeg Jets concluded the regular season with a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night. And with that, winter is officially over.

The Jets (24-21-3) will finish in ninth place, the worst possible spot to end up. Sigh. Oh well, here's one final report card to take home:
Grade: A

The line of Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler combined for 44 of Winnipeg's 128 goals this season, or 34 per cent of the scoring.

It's not uncommon for a team's No. 1 unit to account for a good chunk of the overall production -- that's what top lines are supposed to do. What earns this trio the top billing here though is how they've managed to make an impact on games on a near-nightly basis.

Ladd, the club's MVP, has been especially effective, scoring 18 goals and averaging nearly a point a game this season (46). Project his totals over an 82-game season, and Ladd has career highs in goals (30) and points (77).

It should be a busy summer for the trio, too: it's hard to see Ladd not getting a look from the Canadian Olympic team brain trust as a third or fourth line player when they start to cobble together a roster for Sochi, Russia.

Meanwhile, Little and Wheeler -- the latter led the club with 19 goals, by the way -- are both restricted free agents and will be looking for healthy raises. They've both made good cases.
Grade: B-

- Ondrej Pavelec in 2011-12: 29-28-9 record; .906 save percentage; 2.91 goals against average, four shutouts.

- Ondrej Pavelec in 2012-13: a 21-20-3 record; .905 save percentage; 2.80 goals against average, no shutouts.

Yeah, Pavelec's made some big saves and he's won some games for a hapless Jets squad in front of him, but the numbers just aren't good enough. He hasn't elevated his play (or found consistency) to get the team to the next level.

The Brendan Gallagher goal in the third period Thursday night pretty much underlines his unpredictability. On second glance, this grade is way too generous.
Grade: C

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and coach Claude Noel has have posted a 61-56-13 record in two seasons.

Winnipeg has missed the playoffs both years, but perhaps more concerning to Jets fans is the lack of consistency within the group during this time. Did you see legitimate growth from the first year to the second year?

Another question: have the Jets established an identity or been able to exert their own style of play through the entire 60 minutes of a game? Have they gotten better? What is their identity?

Winnipeg was 15-6-1 against non-playoff teams this year; 9-15-2 against the clubs above them.

Noel has done an OK job with an OK lineup, which switches the attention to Cheveldayoff and the mark he's made. This Jets team simply isn't good enough, and with two years under the new regime it's time for a significant change or two to the core.

Just missing out on the playoffs is already getting old. Everyone keeps saying the future is bright for this team, and that may very well be true, right now, though, this is an average team and thus an average grade for the people in charge.
Grade: D

The Jets wanted to keep the goals against down this season; better defensive play would translate into a few more victories was the idea.

In 2011-12, the Jets allowed 246 goals over 82 games for a 2.95 goals against average. This season, Winnipeg allowed 144 goals through the 48-game schedule, an average of three goals against per game, and had a minus-16 goal differential (128-144).

If the Jets want to be among the elite, they'll have to trim their goals against average by at least half a goal a game. This should be a failing grade, come to think of it.
Grade: F

Another reason the Jets missed the playoffs: the power play. Winnipeg finishes with 20 power play goals on 145 chances (13.8 per cent), which puts them in 29th place among NHL teams.

It's been atrocious all year. It's killed momentum and it's hurt them in close games. Coming into Thursday, the average power play efficiency in the NHL was at 18.2 per cent.

Six goals were all the Jets needed to be average. That doesn't sound like much, but those scores could have been the difference between making the playoffs and booking tee times.


Adam Wazny is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer who has covered sports in the city for over a decade. He has worked as a reporter for both the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Sun, and now spends most of his time checking his Twitter. Did someone say Twitter? Find him here: @wazoowazny.

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