Why the Jets Are Weird
The Winnipeg Jets are weird.
On April 20, I published an article about the luckiest and unluckiest teams in the NHL at that point of the season. I used PDO and Goals Differential Above Expected as statistics to demonstrate which teams were luckier or unluckier than others. The Jets were ranked fifth on that list with a 1.012 PDO and a 24.46 GDAE, which were ninth and first in the league respectively.
Going back a month before that, on March 25, I published an article using the Pythagorean Won-Loss Formula for hockey and trying to assess the results. Comparing the results of predicted winning percentage for the Jets versus their actual winning percentage at the time (58% versus 60%), the Jets were overperforming. Why are these statistics important?
Many analysts and commentators (myself included) assumed that the Jets would run out of luck throughout the remainder of the regular season — and they did. At the time of the March 25th article, the Jets were 10th in the league in points. When they finished the regular season, they were 14th in the league, only beating the Blues and Canadiens as other teams that made the playoffs. Their luck had run out, but they had managed to hold on to their 3rd spot in their division.
Many of these same analysts and commentators (myself included) assumed that the Jets would not be any match for the Edmonton Oilers, who looked like a team ready to make a run at the Stanley Cup off one of the greatest regular season performances in recent memory from Connor McDavid. The Jets notified their fans that they would also be without star Nikolaj Ehlers and for Games 1 and 2. Now the Jets are 2–0 after two stellar performances by goalie Connor Hellebuyck, including a 1–0 shutout last night.
It’s difficult to emphasize how incredible Hellebuyck’s performances over the past two games has been. According to MoneyPuck.com, the Oilers have an expected goal percentage of 57.45%, but they have an actual goal percentage of 25% (as such, the Jets’s expected goal percentage is 42.55% with an actual goal percentage of 75%). Hellebuyck has saved 5.5 goals above expected, a 4.1% save percentage above expected, and 0.92 wins above replacement — all of which are first in the playoffs for all goalies. He has been quite impressive.
Through two games, the Jets also have one of the highest PDOs in the league at 1.042 (only 0.001 behind the Colorado Avalanche) and one of the highest Goals Differential Above Expected in the league at 3.45 (also second to the Colorado Avalanche).
For these reasons, it is likely that the Jets will be grounded — if not in the next few games, then certainly in the next series. It is unlikely that the Jets continue with their luck in the same way it was unlikely earlier in the season. I would not ever put money against Hellebuyck, but I will against a team that is without some of its star power in a division with a lot of it.
Let me know what you think!