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Season Preview: Defending

The Jets need to master the art of defending this season.

Winnipeg Jets v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets have attempted to rebuild their defence and with that how they will hopefully defend this year. The Jets have signed Dmitry Kulikov and are getting a (hopefully) healthy Tyler Myers back. This will not be enough for the Jets to improve their defence to a playoff-calibre group if Tobias Enstrom continues to decline and Kulikov struggles like he did last season.

The Jets saving grace might just be their forwards. Players like Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler who can limit shots against and drive play the other direction make it easier for the defencemen to actually defend. This is where having three strong centres: Little, Mark Scheifele, and Mathieu Perreault, helps the Jets a lot. They might think that signing someone like Matt Hendricks is the answer to their defensive struggles, but he does not do what the aforementioned forwards do: drive play.

The Jets defence will be interesting. It relies on three players who have extensive injury histories to be healthy. It also relies on the fact that the Jets have to accept that not playing Hendricks will help them defensively because they will not have to defend as much.

The Winnipeg Jets defence is going to rely on the forwards being able to come back and help get the puck out of their own zone, much like the offence is going to be driven by getting the puck to the forwards so they can use controlled exits and entrances to drive back defence and set up shots on net. Defending is a team job, just like creating offence is. If teams accept that you need strong units of men that are able to control the play, they will be able to actually defend better and hopefully create more offence while they are at it.

Defence and offence are inextricably linked. The Jets need their forwards to help them defend better, just like they need their defenders to help them create offence. It is a classic story of how hockey is a bunch of little games inside one larger game. The Jets will need everyone on deck if they are going to make the playoffs this year. Will they be able to pull it off?