The 2014-15 season marks the Winnipeg Jets first full year at the helm of Paul Maurice. Fan confidence remains high that Paul Maurice will steer the ship into the playoff promise land. While hope should always persist while chance exists, should fans confidently expect a world of difference?
Statistics and The On-Ice Results
The Jets last season improved under Paul Maurice. The Jets went 18-12-5 under their new coach after a 19-23-5 record with Claude Noel.
Maurice also looks good under the shot metric microscope. While unsustainable shooting and save percentages drove a chunk of Jets' success under Maurice, he improved the Jets puck possession in score-close situations. In fact, Maurice tends to improve teams in the shot metrics when taking over mid season. While teams tend to improve under new coaches on average, Maurice's results are above the norm.
Maurice improved the Jets shot-attempts differentials by reducing chances against, optimizing an average shooting team with below average goaltending.
Overall, Claude Noel vs Paul Maurice in 2013-14 for score-close situations looked like this:
The Eye-Test and Decision Making
A head coach's job description lists more than building systems. Maurice must manage his players with making productive player evaluations while optimizing both player deployment and usage.
There were quite a few individuals who thought Noel suffered in this area. Fans listed decisions like placing Olli Jokinen at the point on the power play, riding Ondrej Pavelec on back-to-back situations, and choosing players like Antti Miettinen, Chris Thorburn, and Olli Jokinen for prime 5v5 minutes over alternative options as complaints on the former coach.
One should not expect perfection in this area; there are always multiple variables at hand and gambling involved. Howerever, improvement in this area could push the Jets a bit further.
Psychology and Communication
There is the "intangibles" of coaching as well. A coach helps instill drive and confidence within a team. A coach must also be a good communicator.
Clear communication was another area of weakness suspected with the Jets' former head coach. Evander Kane twice commented about miscommunication or non-communication. Alexander Burmistrov cited miscommunication of expectations, not playing time, as his issue with the Jets.
All indications signal that Maurice's ability to communicate should be a plus for the Jets. Evander Kane, Michael Frolik, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, and others have already heavily stressed communication skills as one of Maurice's assets.
So What Kind of Boost Will the Jets Get?
It is a tough call. The real answer will only be found in hindsight.
There is evidence for optimism in that Maurice appears to have a positive impact. There is also evidence for skepticism in that coaching impact only goes so far when and if there are talent depletions.