They may have the worst power play in the NHL, but the Winnipeg Jets have been deadly when it comes to shootouts.
In 71 tries, the Jets (9-9-2) have managed to score only six power-play goals this season, for a lowly 8.4 per cent.
But they’ve won four out of five shootouts, team captain Andrew Ladd has scored in five straight attempts and he shares a three-way tie for the NHL lead with three shootout-deciding goals.
Ladd says he tries to keep it simple and plans what he’s going to do before he starts down the ice.
“I don’t really have any secrets, I think I just pick a move,” he said Thursday.
“I don’t try to overdo it. I don’t try to make any fancy moves or anything. I just do down, try to pick a shot or different angles and go from there.”
Ladd shrugged off suggestions his prowess at the shootout might boost his chances of making Team Canada for the Olympics. Shootouts are even more important in international play.
“I’m not really paying much attention to that. I’m just more focused on trying to get this team wins,” he said.
Considering their success in the tiebreaker, it’s perhaps unfortunate for the Jets that the league is looking at ways to reduce the number shootouts, perhaps by changing the current five-minute overtime period.
If they do, Ladd says he would like to see the NHL opt for a three-on-three five-minute overtime period.
Coach Claude Noel endorsed the same idea, suggesting it would certainly increase the chances of a game-winning goal.
But one area the team desperately wants to improve right now is its power play, ranked 30th in the league. The players know it is dragging down their game.
“It goes hand in hand,” says Olli Jokinen.
“If you look at the top teams in the standings they’re most likely top in their special teams as well. That’s the one area where we’ve got to get better, that’s for sure.”
Noel agrees it would be hard for the team to have the kind of success it wants if it can’t turn its woeful power play around, but he hasn’t lost hope.
“It think the chances (of success) diminish, let’s put it that way,” he said.
“Our execution has to be better. We’ve got more pucks to the net which is good, but our execution in a general sense of things has to be better.”
He says he has confidence in the team.
“I just believe in the players that we have, that we’ll get it on the right track.”
This isn’t exactly a new problem. The Jets were also last in power-play percentage last season and ranked 22nd in 2011-12, their first in their new home.
“We’ve just got to stick with it,” says defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. “It’s going to come sooner or later.”
Sooner would be good, as the team prepares for a visit from the Philadelphia Flyers (7-10-1) Friday.
Like the Jets, the Flyers are riding a three-game winning streak. It’s a high-water mark for both teams this season.
Philadelphia hasn’t cracked .500, while the Jets have 20 points in 20 games.
But no one is exactly jumping for joy, as the Jets again gun for a playoff spot, something the franchise has managed to secure only once in its history in Atlanta or Winnipeg.
“It’s not very significant for me,” said Noel. “We’ve been on the wrong side of the (playoff) line two years in a row and if you look at the Western (Conference) it’s going to take a little more than .500.”
The Jets currently sit in 11th spot in the conference, ahead of only Nashville, Calgary and Edmonton.
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