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Process Over Results

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The Winnipeg Jets have the process right and are starting to get results. Will this pattern hold if Pavelec becomes Pavelec of old?

Pavelec, as many saw him last year.
Pavelec, as many saw him last year.
Ryder Needham

I got stuck on this earlier this week and I think we need to talk about this. Process versus results and why process is so much more valuable than results. Brief background; I am in education and and one of the things I have really picked up is the idea that the content that the students give me is more important than the final product students hand in. The job of the teacher is to deliver content and to see what students do with this content, the process of their synthesizing of information is much more important than the result of their synthesizing of information. Process over result.

Now hockey. Hockey is a game of results, where the process can tell you a lot about the results. I said that the Winnipeg Jets recent win over the New York Rangers was lucky because of how they played. The Jets process was bad, even if the result was good. Same with the win over the Chicago Blackhawks: bad process, good result. By in large though, the Jets process has been very good this year. They have been controlling play and outshooting opponents in score-adjusted Fenwick, as well as score-close Fenwick, the Jets are up their with top teams. Like I said, the process is good. But is the process good enough to compensate for a major flaw.

I am not going to harp on Ondrej Pavelec too much, other than to say I hope he has an outlier season and kicks butt all year. If he does not, are the Jets a good enough team to compensate for what they lack? History says probably not. In Claude Noel's first year here, the process looked promising (in the South East), but the results were lacking because Pavelec was not always on the ball that year. Yes, he was team MVP, but that did not tell the whole story. Pavelec has an ability to look surprised when a puck hits him. He also makes great reactionary saves sometimes. Sorry, I am talking about Pavelec too much. Back to the question at hand.

The Jets processed seems good right now, but the results could seem flawed if Pavelec regresses to Pavelec. I contrast this to the Montreal Canadiens who have a highly flawed process, but Carey Price covers up those flaws. If he regresses, even a bit from last year, the Habs are in trouble. The problem is, the results cover up the flawed process and lead people to think that the Habs are a good team. They have good players, but have serious problems in their system that need to be addressed before they can be anointed at good team. I digress, again.

The problem is a flawed system can be covered by elite goaltending. How elite must a system be to coverup mediocre to bad goaltending? The Jets may be guinea pigs for this system, but we know from the Ron Wilson coached Toronto Maple Leafs that goalies can screw over good teams and make good coaches lose jobs. Goalies can also keep bad coaches in jobs for too long by covering the teams flaws. It sounds cliche that you can only fire one guy, but you want to make sure you fire the right guy.

Where do the Jets go now?

Hopefully, they maintain their level of play and Pavelec maintains competency. If that happens, a playoff round or more is possible. The biggest concern lies in both those parts. The second pair and bottom six has been a troublesome area for the Jets this year. If these areas can be fixed and Pavelec remains competent (fingers crossed), the Jets may have something. And that would be wonderful. The process looks good so far, but let's see if it holds. I hope it does, because the playoffs would be fun, if the Jets can get there.

Eric T. explains score-adjusted Fenwick. (Broad Street Hockey)