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More Goals Please

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Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

As snow begins to stick to the grounds of Winnipeg, wins seem to stick to the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets are playing tremendous hockey, and the results are certainly showing in the standings.

But, how?

How are the Jets sitting at third in the central division? How is a team that was predicted to be in the conversation for the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, competing at such a high level?

A lot of the Jets' early success is thanks to the team’s goaltending.

Ondrej Pavelec entered the season as a giant question mark. After enduring 3 disappointing campaigns, Pavelec has rebounded in the best fashion and has become the backbone of this Winnipeg Jets hockey team.

Pavelec currently holds a 7-5-2 record along with a .928% SV% and a 1.99 GAA.

Jets backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson has also turned heads so far this season. Hutchinson posses a 2-1 record, accompanied by a .949 SV% and a 1.50 GAA.

Though it is hard to judge Hutchinson in such a small sample size, aside from his poor performance against the Los Angelas Kings, when called upon, Michael Hutchinson has been solid for the Jets.

The Jets have got the best out of their goaltending duo.

Another component to the Jets success of stopping goals is the team’s overall defense. The forwards and the defenseman have both been very responsible in the defensive zone.

Despite the team’s recent success, the Jets have lacked in a very crucial department.

The Jets are struggling to score goals. Mightily.

The Jets are currently second last in the league with goals per game, with 1.82. If not for the solid goaltending they have been getting, the Jets could find themselves in the basement of the NHL standings.

The Jets struggles with putting the puck in the net aren't about shot volumes. The Jets average 30.7 shots a game and have generated many scoring chances throughout their games, though they have struggled to capitalize on the chances they have created.

"We've had our fair share of chances." Said Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian. "We just have to bear down, but that said, we've been playing with a lot of pace and created a lot of energy."

Here are a few things I think the Jets could do get the team to score more goals.

Separate Wheeler & Kane

Hear me out.

Blake Wheeler has been a crucial part to the Jets success. He has been one of the Jets best and most consistent forwards. The Jets last game against Carolina saw Wheeler have one of his best performances of the year and come one goal shy of a hat trick.

Evander Kane has struggled so far this season. He plays a similar game to Wheeler and that can be a component to his struggles. They are both dangerous with the puck and they are both better players with the puck on there stick.

Having those two players on the same line can be difficult.

Kane and Wheeler on the same line, may have also affected Kane.

If Kane were to be on a line with Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik, Kane would be the line's offensive focal point.

The move would also reunite the line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler. This gives Blake Wheeler even more weapons to work with and it stacks the Jets first line with offensive firepower.

This move is unlikely to happen in the midst of a winning streak but if Maurice thinks a change needs to be made up front, this idea is certainly one to explore.

Move Buff Back to D

Dustin Byfuglien has been solid in his role on the team’s third line. But he can be even more of a factor for the club if the Jets would move him back to defenseman.

Byfuglien was one of the league's top scoring defenseman last season before being moved up to forward by former Jets coach Claude Noel. Byfuglien provides more offense, when he is operating on the blue line. I’d estimate that at least 15 NHL teams would utilize Byfuglien as a defenseman.

Though Byfuglien has a tendency to look rather lazy defensively, that should not matter to a Winnipeg Jets team that has been superb at defending. Besides, Dustin Byfuglien is not alone. Everyone on the Jets defenseman core makes mistakes.

This move could both improve the team’s offense and maximize Byfuglien’s individual production.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice acknowledged Byfuglien’s frustrations due to lack of offense.

"It's frustrating. Dustin has probably had the puck on his stick more than anybody in our locker room and expects to score himself – and we do too."

If the Jets would like Byfuglien to score, then moving him back to defenseman could help.

It is my opinion that Dustin Byfuglien can bring more to this hockey team as a top pairing defenseman than a bottom six forward.

Third Line Needs to Capitalize on Chances

On paper, the Jets have a very solid third line in Matthieu Perreault, Adam Lowry and Dustin Byfuglien. They present a unique mixture of size and skill. The line has created plenty of scoring chances, night in and night out. But the trio have been silent on the box score as of late. Jets head coach Paul Maurice praised the lines work.

"A lot of good chances and to their credit, they haven't tried to do something different. It's frustrating."

Dustin Byfuglien summarized the lines recent performance.

"It's never easy to sit there and not get (goals). We're getting plenty of looks and I feel we're in their end most of the time. It's a matter of time before it comes."

The Jets third line is beyond capable of being effective offensively. If the Jets third line capitalizes on their chances, the Jets will then have three lines that can score. That could translate in to more offensive production from the forwards.

If players such as Matthieu Perreault, Adam Lowry and Dustin Byfuglien get there offensive game rolling, the Jets could find themselves with a checking line that has some solid offensive upside.

Conclusion

Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson have been solid for the Jets thus far this season. Not to say that there production will decline, but the Jets cannot rely on the teams goaltending to win them games every night. The team needs to improve offensively, or make changes.

What do you think the Jets can do to increase their offense?