The Winnipeg Jets are thrilled to be in the playoffs. That’s a success for them. However, the Anaheim Ducks have been here before are looking to build on their success. Will this one play out as the NHL betting lines indicate?
The Winnipeg Jets Can Win This Series Because…
They played really well down the stretch of the season, but they're not favored on the NHL odds. Not only did the Jets win four of their five games in April, they also won 10 of their last 14 games overall. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec did most of the heavy lifting, which is a surprising thing to say. It’s fairly safe to say that Pavelec’s second half of the season was probably his best stretch of hockey at any point in his career. He was just 12-16 before the All-Star break, posting a 2.47 GAA and a .913 save percentage. After the break, he was 10-8 with a 1.98 GAA and a .932 save percentage. He enters the playoffs having posted three straight shut outs. If he can continue to keep this up, the Ducks are going to be in for a very tough matchup.
Beyond that, what’s interesting to note here is the Ducks home-away scoring splits. Although the Ducks have home-ice advantage in this series, they actually scored just 2.73 goals per game at home this season, which was the seventh-worst number while giving up 2.63. That means they played a lot of tight games in front of their own audience. With margins that thin, the Jets could have a chance to steal a game or two in Anaheim and potentially this series.
The Anaheim Ducks Can Win This Series Because…
Pavelec is not likely to stand on his head in this series. Although he’s played well recently, he didn’t play well against Anaheim this year. He had a meager .882 save percentage against them while posting a horrendous 3.82 goals-against average. But that’s not a coincidence. For his career, Pavelec has a .900 save percentage against Anaheim along with a 3.53 goals-against average. He’s coughed up 18 goals in five appearances.
There’s a big difference in quality between these teams as the Jets built up most of their record against teams below .500 this year while going just 18-25 against teams with a winning record. As for Anaheim, they were 25-17 in that same position. That tells you quite a bit in terms of the quality of these two teams. Take the Ducks with your NHL picks.
This is a bad matchup for the Jets. Yes, Pavelec has been playing well but in general, throughout, his career, he’s been weak against strong offensive teams. Meanwhile, the Ducks main Achilles heel is teams that play strong defense or who have solid goaltending. The Jets – unless Pavelec goes bananas – are neither of those things.
Supporting that fact is that the Ducks won all three meetings this year while scoring 13 goals in the process. They’ve also won five of the last six meetings overall. With home-ice advantage on their side too, look for the Ducks to take this series sooner rather than later.
NHL Pick: Ducks to win the Series