After becoming the NHL’s hottest team heading into the Olympic Break, the Winnipeg Jets have lost their fire. They are still earning points, but they are now coming in the form of shoot-out losses, which won’t be good enough if the Jets plan on making the playoffs this season.
Winnipeg’s losing streak has now reached five, the same point in January where Claude Noel was excused. That won’t be happening to new head coach Paul Maurice any time soon, partly because the Jets have picked up points in three of those five games.
The Jets lost games to the New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche, and on Wednesday, the Vancouver Canucks. All happened after the expiration of regulation time.
Mixed in there was a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, and another loss to the Ottawa Senators. All sorts of interesting stats have popped up: The Jets are far below normal when playing on national TV (three of their last five losses have been), or the Jets have tarnished their above-average home record with 4 losses in the MTS Centre in the past week.
The Jets blew two leads against the Canucks on Wednesday night, after being in front 1-0 and 2-1. The Jets also held a 1-0 lead in Colorado, and against the Kings last week. Team discipline has been questionable as of late, but thanks to the Jets’ stellar penalty kill, it hasn’t put them in a hole. However, it takes away an opportunity to continue offensive pressure, and a penalty has turned the tide of the game more than once in the past five games.
The Jets cannot take the “loser point” as some call it, and expect to make the playoffs. Just like on Wednesday, where the Canucks vaulted over Winnipeg in the Wild Card race, those four-point games will become do-or-die, and the Jets will have to not only win, but win in regulation. With two games coming up against the Dallas Stars, and another match-up against the Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg will have to take advantage of teams in the same position.
The shootout losses would be acceptable against teams such as the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues (March 17th), Anaheim Ducks (March 31st), and Pittsburgh Penguins (April 3rd). If the Jets want a shot at making the playoffs, however, the skid must stop Friday night against the New York Rangers. With a five-game road trip looming where the Jets will play three of the top teams in the league, two points will be crucial in games beforehand.
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