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The Dangers of Small Sample Size

The Winnipeg Jets are off to a rocky start, but fans should not panic...yet.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

We should all relax. Really, make a cup of tea and breath. The Winnipeg Jets are not as bad as people accuse them of being, but they may not be as good as the first game showed us as well. The time of year we have entered is known as the dangerous time of small sample sizes. The only thing we can really glean from the early games of any season is potential system changes and potential new line combinations.

The Jets have only played four games so far and they have struggled to score in all the games except for one. Why is that? A little bit of luck for sure. But these struggles skew our perceptions when they happen at the start of the season. Because the Jets has not had the time to gain many points, there is no sort of comfort for fans with the Jets losing ground early in the season. TSN Analytics writer, Travis Yost, released this graph of score-adjusted Fenwick and the Jets aren't doing so bad.

As Eric Tulsky has shown on Broad Street Hockey, score-adjusted Fenwick is a good predictive tool, especially early in the season. The Jets being above 50% on Yost's graph is a good thing for future success. The Jets are shooting 6.4% this season, but only 1.1% when you remove their first game where they scored 6 goals and shot 22.2%. There are some good signs though. The powerplay, which has been the bane of the Jets existence since they moved to Winnipeg has looked good. They are no longer relying solely on shots from the point to get shots through. Mathieu Perreault has helped a lot there.

The Winnipeg Jets have some issues. The defence is shakier than ever. Bizarre lineup decisions are being made and the team's ability to score has been hampered by these decision. Chris Thorburn on a scoring line, and having a top 9, bottom 3 set-up means he is on a scoring line, will not lead you much success offensively. This problem could easily be remedied by simply playing Matt Halischuk or TJ Galiardi on the third line and Thorburn on the fourth line. The Jets could get even bolder and recall Eric O'Dell as Evander Kane is on injured reserve and the Jets have a free roster spot until he is healthy. If O'Dell is recalled while Kane is injured, the Jets just have to send down a player when Kane returns to health. They can waive O'Dell again (unless Kane returns before November 8) or they can waive a different player like Anthony Peluso, making the lineup more skilled in the process.

The Winnipeg Jets are off to a rough start. They have only played four games and any conclusions drawn from the first four games have to be taken with a grain of sand. There are some concerning patterns emerging though. The over-reliance on Chris Thorburn, who is seen as the best player to move up the lineup. There is also the appearance of a double standard that is being applied to certain players in regards to camp performance and lineup spots.

The two comments from Maurice on Clitsome has led to some questions over the standards that are being applied to all players. Did Halischuk not perform better than Thorburn in camp? And was Clitsome worse than Pardy in camp? Or is Maurice trying to not draw conclusions from small sample sizes, even if we are talking about bottom of the lineup guys who are usually in and out of the lineup a lot as is.

TL;DR, the Jets have to get their scoring in gear soon, but don't panic and watch this video about small-sample size instead.