3 Jets most to blame for series loss to Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche News

The Winnipeg Jets entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a potential dark horse contender. Winnipeg finally found a system that didn’t see them rely on goalie Connor Hellebuyck to bail them out. They played a brand of smothering defense that kept even the most high-scoring offenses at bay. And yet, it all fell apart against the Colorado Avalanche.

3 Jets most to blame for series loss to Avalanche

To be fair, things got off to a good enough start. Winnipeg won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a score of 7-6. However, that game also showed the team had an issue with allowing goals. It was an issue that became a trend, and it ultimately sunk them. The Jets didn’t win another game against the Avalanche, losing the series in five games.Now, the Jets have to wonder what could have been in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fans certainly wonder which players could have stepped it up a bit more against the Avalanche. It won’t change anything, but let’s take a deeper dive and see which players deserve some blame for Winnipeg’s latest exit from the playoffs.

Sean Monahan held at bay

Winnipeg Jets center Sean Monahan (23) is checked by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (49) in the second period in game five of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canada Life Centre.
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

By the NHL All-Star Game, the Jets looked like legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. But they were in need of a bit of an offensive spark. So, they swung an interesting trade. Winnipeg acquired veteran center Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for two draft picks, including a 2024 first-round pick.

Heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it looked like a great move. Monahan scored 24 points in 34 games with Winnipeg. In fact, the Brampton native scored as many goals (13) with the Jets as he did in 49 games with Montreal. Monahan proved to be the type of second-line point-producer the Jets needed at the time.

However, things didn’t go quite the same way against the Avalanche. While he did finish second on the team in individual expected goals, he failed to find the back of the net. Furthermore, he failed to record a primary assist in this series. He managed just one point against Colorado in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the price paid at the NHL Trade Deadline, the Jets needed more from their veteran center. In the end, they didn’t receive the required effort. And that is part of the reason why the Avalanche are marching on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nikolaj Ehlers didn’t score a goal

The Jets were not the most offensively inclined team in the league. However, they could score when needed. They had a few players who were definitely threats to put the puck in the need when on the ice. One such player is winger Nikolaj Ehlers. He finished tied for second among Winnipeg skaters with 25 goals. And he was one of four players with 20+ goals on the 2023-24 season.

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Jets needed him to maintain that sort of form. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. Ehlers failed to score a single goal against the Avalanche in the five-game series. He managed just two assists while maintaining an individual expected goals mark of 0.73.

To be fair, he did earn a primary assist against the Avalanche, which Monahan didn’t. However, the Jets need Ehlers to score goals. If he doesn’t score goals, a decent amount of their offense goes away with him. The Avalanche were able to keep him off of the score sheet, and are moving on as a result.

Let’s talk about Connor Hellebuyck, things didn’t go quite the same way against the Avalanche.

Perhaps the biggest shock of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Jets is the play of Connor Hellebuyck. There are few goalies in the NHL as consistently elite as Hellebuyck. Beyond a slow start this year, he maintained his elite status in 2023-24. In fact, he was recently named one of the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender.

Heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, goaltending was the least of Winnipeg’s worries. Compared to Avalanche netminder Alex Georgiev, Hellebucyk was clearly better in all facets. If this series came down to goaltending, the Jets would win the series without many issues.

Unfortunately for Winnipeg, reality plays out differently than speculation. Connor Hellebuyck struggled during his five games against the Avalanche. At one point, head coach Rick Bowness even pulled the superstar puck-stopper due to his performance. Hellebuyck could not stop the high-powered Colorado offense no matter what he did.

When the dust settled, the Jets star turned in an abysmal performance. He managed a save percentage of just .870 in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is the worst postseason save percentage of his career. The advanced stats don’t paint a pretty picture, either. He recorded -6.54 goals saved above average and -6.47 expected goals saved in this series.

The Avalanche stood up to the best goalie in the NHL this season, and they won the battle. Connor Hellebuyck could not get the job done for the Jets. And, once again, Winnipeg saw its season end much earlier than they anticipated.

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