Claude Noel plans to juggle the Winnipeg Jets' lines

Marianne Helm

Claude Noel aired out some frustration to reporters on Friday and let it be known that some line juggling is in the team's future. Is that really a good idea?

On Friday, Claude Noel discussed with the media the need to change things up with his line combinations. As evidence to back his assertion, he alluded to the lacklustre +/- stats of one of his lines. This is a thinly veiled reference to the Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen and Blake Wheeler line.

The three players have the three worst +/- ratings on the team and are a combined -20. But it seems strange to choose today as the day to pick on them, as the three players actually had a strong game on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. As the Fenwick data for the game shows, that line was about as good as it could be aside from the absence of goals.

Further evidence of the line's bad luck are the full season PDO ratings of the three players. Wheeler, Jokinen and Kane have the three lowest PDO scores on the Jets. All three players are below 900, indicating that they have suffered atrocious luck so far.

The fact that Noel wants to split them up seems to show an over-reliance on +/- and a lack of awareness of statistics that give a broader picture of what is happening when a player is on the ice. Even based on just watching the Leafs game, most viewers were impressed by the work of the Jokinen line.

The bad luck those three players have faced early in the season is bound to change eventually, regardless of whether they stay on the same line or not. When their +/- and goal scoring improves, hopefully Noel does not think it is because of his brilliant line juggling.

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