The joke that is the Winnipeg Jets power play is starting to get old really fast. The team has drawn the 2nd most penalties in the league this season, but their horrible efficiency has them among the worst teams in the league at capitalizing on the man advantage.
As of October 30, the Jets sit 26th in the league having converted just 6 of 54 power play opportunities, or 11.1%. 2 of those 6 goals were scored with a 2-man advantage, like Blake Wheeler's tally Tuesday night against the Blues.The 54 penalties drawn only trails the San Jose Sharks, who have capitalized on the man advantage 12 time on 55 opportunities for a 21.8 efficiency rating. Division rivals Minnesota have drawn 53 penalties and converted on 13 of those, for a 24.5 PP%. The Jets have lost 5 games by one goal so far this season, and just bringing that efficiency up a few percentage points could very well mean a significant jump in the standings.
As it stands, the Jets are 6th in the Central Division, ahead of only the Stars, who have 2 games in hand. It's a shame, because these are points that have been thrown away. The players do everything it takes to earn the penalty calls, but you would almost prefer the coaches to decline the penalties at this point. To prove a point, the 10th ranked penalty kill only trails the power play by 4 goals thus far.
The problem really started last year, and it is by no coincidence that the downturn started with the arrival of Assistant Coach Perry Pearn. Pearn was let go by the Canadiens in October of 2011, and joined the Jets in June of 2012. Prior to Pearn's arrival, Pascal Vincent had been in charge of the power play, and had overseen the unit to the 12th best efficency in 2011-2012 when they scored 17.9% of their chances.
Since Pearn has joined the coaching staff the unit has gone 26 of 199, or 13.1%, meaning the Jets only score with the extra man a little more than once per every 8 chances. As I said earlier, that's basically throwing away goals which means throwing away wins. Changes need to be made, and they need to be made soon.
We have already seen the call for Claude Noel to be fired, but he has the opportunity to temporarily extend his stay if he pulls the trigger on one or both of Pearn and Vincent. Pearn for sure has to go, and the damage done may be too much for Vincent to overcome. His impressive 26.2% efficiency with the Montreal Juniors in 2010-2011 is definitely part of the reason he was brought into the fold to begin with but, if this is his system currently in place it just isn't working.
Opposing teams have seen that the Jets have one plan on the PP, and stick to it like gum to hair as the puck gets sent to the blue line where the defence try to set each other up for one timers. You often have Dustin Byfuglien on the right, with Tobias Enstrom on the left, meaning they can't actually set each other up for the one-timer, and instead have to control the puck before attempting the shot, allowing time for opposing penalty killers to close them down and take away the shooting lanes. So they pass it along the boars, where Mark Scheifele falls down and loses the puck, or Andrew Ladd takes an offensive zone penalty to negate the advantage. It's an ugly scene.
There are 68 games left in the season. There's still plenty of time to get back into the dogfight that will be the race for playoff spots in the Western Conference. But the Jets need to solve their power play problem before that dream can become a reality.