Winning three straight games to snap a five-game losing streak, the Winnipeg Jets have pulled out of their nose dive and are looking to soar to the franchise’s first postseason birth since 2007.
As of Monday, the Jets sit in second place in the southeast division behind the Washington Capitals. Winnipeg is within four points of Washington and two points behind the Rangers, although New York has a game in hand on the Jets.
Beneath the Jets sit the recently second-to-last Buffalo Sabres have earned points in seven out of their last 10 contest and sit at 42 points, just two points behind Winnipeg. The Jets have a game inhand, but play the Sabres for a third and final time when Winnipeg travels to First Niagara Center for the second time this season.
Winnipeg is coming off of the longest break they’ve had between games this season of four games. Heading into tonight’s contest, the first of back-to-back division games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, the Jets have a favorable chance to be in playoff position by the final game of their current homestand. Winnipeg has winning records this season against both Tampa Bay (2-1) and Carolina(2-1). Although neither squad is mathematically eliminated, both squads are playing for pride as possible spoilers on others postseason chances.
Carolina and Buffalo are the teams with biggest potential to be the aforementioned playoff spoilers. Besides the Jets,both squads play the Rangers and Islanders within the final two weeks of the regular season. The Hurricanes also face the Ottawa Senators who currently sit in sixth place just four points ahead of Winnipeg.
Winnipeg will close out the week with their second-to-last home game versus the aforementioned Islanders, who sit in the seventh spot with 47 points, three ahead of the Jets. By Saturday, Winnipeg could be in the sixth, seventh or eighth playoff spot depending on how things shake out in the days ahead.
No word on Trouba’s Debut
Last Monday the Jets newest member, defenseman Jacob Trouba, spoke to the media for the first time following the Jets morning practice. Trouba, who signed an entry level contract with Winnipeg, foregoing his final three years of NCAA hockey eligibility with the University of Michigan Wolverines.
Trouba, who was drafted ninth overall by the Jets in the 2012 entry draft, notched 12 goals and 19 assists for Michigan in his freshman season. He earned first team all-american honors and was voted team MVP at season’s end.
When Trouba spoke to the horde of microphones congregated in front of his MTS Centre locker, the main question on everyone’s mind was when the Rochester, Michigan native would be inserted into the Jets lineup. The rookie said he really wasn’t sure when or if that time would come this season and that he’s focused on adjusting squad at practice. Two things in particular were the increased size of the guys around him and quickness of the NHL game.
This is an interesting move the Jets have done as its something the franchise has never done,signing a guy following the collegiate hockey season. It is almost common practice for AHL and ECHL minor league clubs to sign collegiate seniors who’ve just finished their amateur playing days and are looking to get a jump start in the pros. The move shows that both team and player are ready to take this process to the next level (i.e. NHL play), which is very important in the development of a young and budding talent like Trouba.
As Trouba did or didn’t say, it doesn’t seem likely that head coach Claude Noel will insert the young 19-year-old into the lineup any time soon. The only logical reasons at this point in the season would be if multiple, as in three or four of the Jets 9 other rostered, defenceman suffered injury or if Winnipeg is eliminated from the playoff race before their final regular season game. It doesn’t appear Trouba will be suiting up for more than five games, and therefore any risk of knocking out the first year of his three-year entry level contract, a consideration Jets brass has surely taken into account.
If Trouba laces them up for Winnipeg this season, don’t expect to be until at the earliest next week at Buffalo or more likely the final game at home against the Canadiens.