When last we left Wellwood’s World, Welly had just signed a one-year deal with the Jets after failing to come to terms with the Sharks. After a warren of West Side Story jokes (don’t the Jets and Sharks prefer basketball to hockey?), Wellwood settled in with Winnipeg, finding a spot on the third line.
As the internet’s foremost Wellwood-ologists, we noticed a few odd things about his start with the Jets. Such as the fact that he’s leading the team in goalscoring, with 4 goals in 9 games. That’s not normal: Wellwood’s highest goal total in his career was 18 with the Canucks in 2008-09. He’s also third on the team in points, with 6.
Some players on the Jets made their stats a little more respectable by cashing in on last night’s absurd 9-8 victory over the Flyers, such as former Canuck and friend of the blog Tanner Glass, who had his first ever 3-point game (third line for Glass!), tying him with Wellwood for third on the team in scoring. Wellwood, on the other hand, only had one point in the game, a goal. Instead of his usual streakiness, Wellwood has been a model of consistency, scoring in 5 of the Jets’ 9 games and never going more than one game without a point.
His goalscoring won’t continue on this pace, of course, as his current 36.4 shooting percentage is unsustainable. His point production, however, certainly could. We’ve talked about PDO on PITB before and I’ve written about how PDO can provide a reality check for hot starts and scoring streaks, but here’s PDO in a nutshell: it’s designed to be a statistic that tracks luck. Simple add the even-strength shooting and save percentages when a player is on the ice and you have their PDO number. This number, over time, will regress to 1000. If the number is a lot higher, then the player is getting lucky: either he and his teammates are scoring more than is statistically likely or his goaltender is saving shots that he normally wouldn’t, or both. If the number is a lot lower, then the opposite is the case.
In Wellwood’s case, his PDO is below 1000, sitting at 962. While this is not outrageously low, it’s interesting to see where that number is coming from: his on-ice save percentage is second highest on the team behind Mark Scheifele, who recently got sent back to the OHL, but his on-ice shooting percentage is fourth lowest on the team. Even though he’s scoring on 36.4% of his shots, his teammates are not. At all.
So while Wellwood’s 36-goal pace will not continue, he should start picking up some more assists.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Wellwood’s World without something really weird happening to Welly, and in this case it’s how he’s being used by the Jets. Despite being first on the team in goals and third in points, Wellwood is 12th on the team in icetime (6th amongst forwards) and is 14th in shifts per game. He has twice as many points as Bryan Little, who is ostensibly the Jets’ top-line centre, though the 20-year-old point-per-game Alex Burmistrov should probably be taking over that job.
So that’s odd in itself: Wellwood is playing relatively sheltered minutes and starting mainly in the offensive zone despite being surprisingly defensively responsible and, once again, leading his team in fewest goals against per 60 minutes. The Jets have instead chosen to bury their fourth line in the defensive zone: Tanner Glass, Chris Thorburn, and Jim Slater have started in the defensive zone approximately 70% of their shifts.
But what is truly surprising is that the Jets don’t have Wellwood taking faceoffs. Wellwood has only taken 6 faceoffs through 9 games. While the Jets have three other decent options on faceoffs – Antropov and Little are both at 50%, while Slater is at 55.8% – the next two players in faceoffs taken, Burmistrov and Scheifele, are at 40% and 35.3% respectively.
They do know he’s good at faceoffs, right? Wellwood has only had one season where he finished below 50% on faceoffs, his shortened year with the Sharks. Absolutely baffling.
Also strange is his fluctuations in ice time. His highest total was 17:13 against the Penguins, all the way down to 9:46 against the Rangers. The truly bizarre thing is that those fourth-line minutes against the Rangers came after his only multi-point game of the season, where he scored a goal and an assist in a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes. Instead of being rewarded for his play, he played only 13 shifts, albeit in a game where the Jets received only one powerplay and had it cut short by another penalty.
In any case, Wellwood is off to a great start this season with the Jets. We wish him all the best.
s/t to dedicated Bulie Ruth Fisher, who has been watching all the Jets games and keeping us up to date.Tags: featured, wellwood's world