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He may not be a household name like Mark Scheifele or Patrik Laine, but one of the straws that has stirred the drink for the Winnipeg Jets early this season has been Adam Lowry. Playing mostly with Brandon Tanev and Andrew Copp, the big centreman has been a huge part of one of the best grind-it-out lines in the entire NHL, and he’s also been producing offensively.
Getting a bigger role recently with Copp being shuffled to another line only to see Patrik Laine take over that spot, don’t be surprised if Laine’s even-strength production starts to increase with Lowry in the middle.
Lowry isn’t the type of high-end playmaker that you would expect to be teeing up Laine for one-timers from his sweet spot, but what he does do is essentially turn himself into a buzzsaw in the offensive zone to create more opportunities for his linemates.
So far this season, only Carolina’s Justin Williams and Edmonton’s Ryan Strome are recovering more loose pucks in the offensive zone than Lowry, whose tenacity leads him to straight-up beat players to loose pucks more often than not, and when he gets there at the same time, he manages to win a high percentage of those battles.
The value of loose-puck recoveries is obvious; you’re gaining possession of the puck, enabling subsequent plays in order to generate scoring chances, or at the very least hem your opponents in their own zone to tire them out.
What’s interesting about Lowry though, is that he’s particularly adept at getting to loose pucks after shots, whether that’s behind the net after a save, or right in front of it after a goaltender fails to control a rebound.
When Lowry isn’t able to get to the puck first, not to worry, because he’s also one of the best offensive-zone pass-blockers in the league, right up there with teammate Mathieu Perreault. Intercepting passes not only regains possession for your team, but also leads to counter-attacks where opponents are in breakout position instead of a defensive posture, making scoring chances easier to create and more dangerous when you get them on net.
And as Lowry’s four goals this season would hint, when he gets the opportunity, he can create a lot of offence off of his play without the puck in the offensive zone.
Would you believe that Lowry actually ranks third on the Jets in scoring chances generated per 20 minutes? Only Scheifele and Ehlers have been better at creating chances this year, and Lowry is not as far behind as you might think.
Lowry is by no means a high-end playmaker; he struggles to make those dangerous passes into the slot or off the rush, but he’s a very strong shooter, posting the second-most high-danger chances on the Jets after Perreault, and the second-most scoring chances overall after Bryan Little.
For a player like Lowry, who is not a sniper at the NHL level, controlling shot locations like this and continually countering opponents after pressuring them into making a mistake is a great way to inflate your shooting percentage, and unsurprisingly, Lowey’s career shooting percentage numbers are excellent, especially for a fourth-liner.
To top everything off on his great start, Lowry is also winning nearly 59 per cent of his faceoffs this young NHL season, which could represent a third-straight season of improvement for him in that area.
Whether it’s sustainable for Lowry to continue to put up such strong scoring chance numbers is up for debate, but so far this season he has been a fantastic option for the Jets down the middle, no matter what zone he’s playing in.
Ultimately, it’s probably not a good thing for the Jets if Lowry continues to be the teams’ third-best scoring-chance creator, not because he should be worse, but because others, like Wheeler and Laine, need to be better.
Last season, after adding Paul Stastny, the Jets’ centre depth looked excellent, but don’t write off the current players as a group, especially if Little can get things going for himself after a fairly unlucky start to the year.
Andrew Berkshire is a hockey writer specializing in data-driven analysis of the game.