The Winnipeg Jets’ 2021-22 schedule was released July 22, and represents a return to an era where COVID-19 doesn’t call the shots.
Still, there’s plenty to digest about the freshly-released 82-game slate that begins Oct. 14 on the road at the Honda Center against Anaheim Ducks, ends May 29 at the newly-named Canada Life Centre against the Calgary Flames, and sees the Jets face all 31 other NHL teams.
Here, we’ll go over some of the most notable aspects and break them all down.
Jets to Re-Familiarize Themselves with Central Division Competition
With the divisions reverting back to the traditional Atlantic/Central/Metropolitan/Pacific alignments, the Jets are back in the Central and will renew rivalries with teams they haven’t seen since 2019-20.
The Jets will re-familiarize themselves with foes they saw heavy doses of prior to COVID 19 in the Colorado Avalanche (four match ups), Chicago Blackhawks (three match ups), St. Louis Blues (four match ups), Nashville Predators (three match ups), and Minnesota Wild (four match ups.)
With the Seattle Kraken’s entry into the NHL as the league’s 32nd team, the Arizona Coyotes have slid over to the Central. The Jets will face the franchise that moved from Winnipeg in 1996 four times, twice at home at twice on the road.
The return to the Central also means the Jets play away games in their own time zone, a luxury they were not afforded last season.
How the Jets will fare — with lots of roster turnover on every team since March, 2020— is a topic for another day, and will also be determined by what each team does during Free Agency beginning July 28. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s biggest priority will be upgrading his defence.
Canadian Content Still on Tap
While it’s not 56 games against opponents from the Great White North like in 2020-21, the Jets will still have 15 games against Canadian compatriots.
That includes three games against the Vancouver Canucks, three games against first-round 2021 playoff opponent Edmonton Oilers, three games against the Calgary Flames, three games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, two games against the Ottawa Senators, and two games against the Montreal Canadiens — who unceremoniously swept the Jets in the second round.
While playing just six opponents over and over got a bit boring by the end of last season, these one-anthem are bound to be entertaining due to the rivalries they built by facing off nine or 10 times each in the thankfully-temporary North Division.
More Rest, But More Back to Backs
Although the 82-game schedule will take place over 227 days instead of just 114, the Jets will still have 11 back-to-backs. Nine back-to-backs are on the road, and only two are consecutive games at home.
Last season, the Jets had eight back-to-backs. They went 4-3-1 in the first games and 5-3 in the second games.
Back-to-backs are when having two capable goaltenders comes into play the most. While Connor Hellebuyck wants the crease every night, whoever his backup is — wether it be pending UFA Laurent Brossoit, flashy Russian Mikhail Berdin, or someone else — is likely to see the crease more often than not in back-halves of back-to-backs.
The Jets will have 145 off days in 2021-22, compared to just 64 in 2020-21.
While there had been some discussion about “the NHL maintaining mini-series going forward — in which teams would play more than once in a certain city like they did this past year,” that ultimately didn’t happen, the Winnipeg Free Press‘ Mike McIntyre reported. (From ‘Puck drops on Jets’ season Oct. 14,’ Winnipeg Free Press, July 22, 2021.)
The Jets play two straight games versus an opponent only once: against the Oilers on Nov. 16 and Nov. 18 at Rogers’ Place.
Jets Will Sing “Home Sweet Home” in November, Be Road Warriors in February
The Jets’ longest homestand will be seven games, between Nov. 2 and Nov. 16. Their longest road trip will be five games, between Jan. 29 and Feb. 27. The Jets will not play at home in February.
The Jets were better on the road (17-10-1) than they were at home (13-13-2) last season.
Busy Winter and Busy Weekends
As the temperature drops, the Jets’ schedule heats up. They’ll be busy in January and March, playing 15 games in both months.
Tuesday will be the busiest day for the Jets, as they play on that day 17 times. For those looking forward to weekend tilts, the Jets will play 14 times on Friday (eight at home and six on the road) 12 times on Saturday (six at home and six on the road) and 11 times on Sunday (six at home and five on the road.)
Schedule Includes Olympic Break That May Not Be Needed
Even though the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation have not come to a deal that allows players to represent their countries at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing between Feb. 4 and Feb. 20, a break has been included in the schedule anyway. No games are scheduled for the Jets between Feb. 2 and Feb. 22.
Chris Johnson reported “a shadow 2021-22 schedule that doesn’t feature an Olympic break has also been completed and distributed to NHL teams in case the Olympic agreement doesn’t materialize.”
Notable Games Abound
Some games you won’t want to miss include:
- The Jets’ home opener on Thursday, Oct. 21 versus the Ducks (which the Jets are planning to welcome fans to!)
- The Jets’ first three match ups even against the Kraken, in Seattle on Dec. 9 and in Winnipeg on Jan. 8 and Apr. 13
- Two games versus the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, on March 8 at home and April 18 on the road
- Patrik Laine’s first game in Winnipeg since being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in January, 2020, on March 25
The 2021-22 season is bound to be exciting. What do you think of the Jets’ schedule? Comment below!
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.