ANALYSIS: The proof is in the numbers for Winnipeg Jets

Keeping with the idea that 11 out of 82 games represents a small sample size, there are multiple indicators the Winnipeg Jets are very much on track toward playing the style of hockey the coaching staff has mapped out as a template for success.

During the final week of October, the Jets “Hellebucyked” and “Rittiched” their way to five of a possible six points on the road. Positive results, but not sustainable from a long-range perspective.

The way Winnipeg went about winning back-to-back home games over Montreal and Chicago during the first week of November was more like it.

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And along the way, Rick Bowness’ crew has achieved some pretty impressive results.

Going into Tuesday night’s acid test against the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars, the Jets have the NHL’s third-best team goals-against average.

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ANALYSIS: Jets not sputtering like some other Canadian teams

The Jets’ annoying habit of starting slowly — at least on the road — is a topic for another day, probably later this week. But what can’t be ignored is allowing a league-low six goals in the third period, and two of those have been empty-netters. And Winnipeg is tied for the second-fewest second-period goals-against with eight.

Connor Hellebuyck is a big reason for that. But the Jets’ ever-developing, “patient” approach to defer to the safe play has also been a major factor. Flip the puck out inside their own blueline. Dump and chase at the other end. It’s starting to happen more frequently.

Winnipeg’s much-maligned penalty-killing unit has allowed one goal in the last six games and is now a very respectable eighth and just under 83 per cent for the young season.

And in the “let’s get more physical and be a more difficult team to play against” category, Winnipeg is averaging just over 28 1/2 hits per game — seventh-highest in the NHL. But the frequent contact is being done with discipline. The Jets are currently spending the third-least amount of time on a per-game basis playing shorthanded, at just a touch over four minutes.

Not long ago, Rick Bowness was often heard saying, “We have a lot of work to do.” That has now been replaced with “we’re getting there.” The proof is in the numbers.

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