With apologies to the Illegal Curve guys for stealing their name for my radio segment...I wanted to start a regular feature looking at Winnipeg's underlying numbers.
First up, what we call "Fenwick Close" - this counts 5-on-5 shot differential when the game is tied, or within one goal in the first or second period. This metric is the single-best predictor of future winning percentage that we've been able to find. Winnipeg is 17th overall and 8th in the East, so essentially a playoff bubble team, in line with their present 11th position in the standings, three points out of 5th place.
Here's how the Jets have done overall at 5-on-5 "close", including missed shots:
The only downside here is that high shooting percentage, but you can essentially be confident that the Jets should not expect some massive performance regression.
What about special teams?
That's about as average a team as you can find. The only downside here is that the Jets take way too many penalties - they are currently the worst team in the league in penalty differential (-30). This has already cost them one win, and, even given the expected regression to the mean, will cost them four points over the course of the season.
So what to make of it all? Winnipeg is a playoff bubble team, a candidate for a 4-0 knockout in the first round of the playoffs (hmm...childhood memories of the Jets, anyone?) I've said this before - Jets management absolutely should not blow the wad chasing the playoffs this season; they need to build a top ten team, and they should be sellers at the trade deadline, not buyers. It'll be hard to resist chasing a first-year playoff berth, I'm sure, but this is a team that needs to build for the future.