The Winnipeg Jets are running out of games and lifelines as their playoff hopes are slowly fading away. They blew a huge opportunity in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers with the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames both losing earlier in the night.
Opportunities like those do not come around often at this time of the season and teams like the Jets who are fighting for every last point need to capitalize on them for any potential hope.
The Jets are one of four teams with 67 games played as of Sunday morning (the most in the NHL) and they will need to go on a run for any chance of making the postseason for the third-consecutive season.
Key Games Ahead
Obviously all of the Jets’ remaining games are “must-wins” at this point but there are six key games out of their remaining 15 that are the most important.
The Jets, Flames, Predators, Arizona Coyotes, and Minnesota Wild are all separated by two points and it’s likely that only two of these five teams will be able to make the postseason in what has been a close race for a while now. The Jets have six remaining games against these four teams and wins in regulation will be the key to making up ground.
The Jets have two remaining games each against the Flames and Coyotes who they have not played since October and are a combined 1-1 against them. They have one remaining game each against the Wild and Predators and are a combined 3-1-2 with a lot of tight games against them.
Fewest Games Remaining
One of the main factors for the Jets currently having the lowest odds of making the playoffs is the fact they have the fewest games remaining of all the teams in the wild card fight with exception of the Coyotes who also have 15 remaining games.
However, the Coyotes are in the easier division and can still move up into second or third within their division. The Jets do not have that luxury and are left fighting for a wild card spot only with the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche having a lock on the top three spots.
Once the other teams in the race catch up to the Jets in games played, they could easily be four-to-six points ahead of the Jets. This is where going on a run of wins and winning the key matchups I mentioned earlier becomes huge.
The Jets were without Patrik Laine and Josh Morrissey against the Oilers on Saturday, adding to the long list of the walking wounded that includes players like Adam Lowry, Bryan Little, Mathieu Perreault, and Sami Niku.
Obviously, the Jets have had a lot of injury problems throughout the entire season, but I still do not see it as an excuse for missing the playoffs. Their core players have been healthy for the most part and players like Mason Appleton and Jansen Harkins have been solid since joining the lineup. They have had incredible goaltending for a large portion of the season and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff added some depth players in forward Cody Eakin and defenceman Dylan DeMelo.
They have gotten this far facing adversity all season long, so what’s stopping them from making the playoffs now? They need to go out with the group they have and get it done, simple as that.
Predicting the Future
It looks like the Jets will need 94-95 points to make a wild card spot, which means they will need to earn 22-23 points in their remaining 15 games. Winning 11 or 12 of the remaining 15 games seems like a daunting task at this point and one that is highly unlikely.
If there was ever a time for the Jets to prove me wrong, that time is now. I would love to see them go on a run and squeak into the playoffs so the whiteout can return once again.
Related: Jets’ Struggles Will Continue
Unfortunately, I think we see them continue their .500 hockey and miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
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