On today’s Mrs. Baird’s Bakery menu, you’ve got Winnipeg Jets hot takes with a side of buttered rye bread, which we hear is popular in the great white north. (Sourdough is the best though, come at me.)
Here’s a look at the ingredients of the Winnipeg Jets of the Central Division as the season gets underway.
Last season stats:
Points earned: 87
Central Division finish: 6th (out of 7)
Final league finish: 20th (out of 30)
Best stat: they finished the season with a win streak of 7 games, the hottest end to the season in the league
Worst stat: 350, the number of penalties they took last season (4th highest in the league behind the Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks, and Tampa Bay Lightning, and tied with the Ottawa Senators)
Key offseason player changes:
- D Mark Stuart (buyout)
- F Chris Thorburn (expansion draft)
- G Ondrej Pavelec
+ G Steve Mason
+ D Cameron Schilling
+ C Matt Hendricks
2017-2018 Freshness Rating:
(1 loaf of bread = lottery pick, 5 loaves of bread = deadly contender)
The Winnipeg Jets are largely unchanged in their core players up front and on defense. With the talent and size they have, they’ve been on the cusp of being a true threat in the Central Division for several seasons now. The only thing that has been standing in their way has been goaltending.
The Jets were similar to the Dallas Stars in some ways in that regard.
Winnipeg went out to try to upgrade their goaltending by signing former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason. Mason was...not very good last season. He posted a .908 save percentage behind a defensively deficient team that finished witha -17 goal differential. How much of that was team defense and how much was goaltending is kind of like a “chicken and egg” question.
If Mason can return to his save percentages of two seasons ago, Winnipeg with offense from guys like Patrick Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler might be able to become a true threat for a wild card spot in the Central.
(Update: if last night’s first game of Winnipeg’s season is any indication, that may not be the case...Mason was pulled after allowing five goals to the Toronto Maple Leafs on his team’s way to a 7-2 loss.)
Central Division Prediction:
6th place - I’m not sure they’ll get the goaltending they need in order to leapfrog over stronger teams in the Central, and they’ll finish right in the same place as last year. I could see it being a very, very close finish with the 5th place team, though.