The Jets are very quickly running out of time. There are two weeks left in this shortened season, and the boys find themselves currently sitting in 9th place in the East. A mere two points out of a playoff spot. Here I was thinking I was actually going to get some studying done for finals this week.
Sadly I spent a lot more time than I wanted to scoreboard watching, as I am sure many other Jets fans were. With Washington barely squeaking out a win against Tampa and the Islands and Rangers battling into a three point game, I can fairly say it wasn’t the best Saturday night for the resting Jets.
As a further detriment to my educational stability, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what’s left of the calendar for the teams the Jets are attempting to chase down for a playoff spot. I decided to pull up the schedules for Washington (obviously), the Rangers, the Islanders, and the Sens (you never know right?), and this is what I found:
Washington by far has the hardest remaining schedule. The Caps have been on a tear as of late, going 8-1-1 in their 10, but in all honesty have been mainly feasting on some pretty weak and struggling teams. They do catch the benefit of playing 4 of their remaining 6 games at home where they have posted a 12-8-0 record, but are stuck against a lot of strong teams in the Northeast, a division they have gone 5-5-0 against thus far this season.
New York Rangers
As difficult as Washington’s remaining schedule is, the Rangers’ looks like a walk in the park. Two games against the basement Panthers, two games against the horrid-of-late Devils, and one against the visor-licking Sabres. They don’t play a game against a team that will finish in the playoffs, and they still have a game in hand on the Jets. Yes, the Rangers have had their problems this year, but it would be a shocker if this team did not finish the regular season in the playoffs. And with a goalie of Lundqvist’s ability between the pipes, I wouldn’t want to be facing them in the first round either.
New York Islanders
As a long time Leaf fan, having the Islanders sneak in ahead of the Jets would just be cruel. The flashbacks to 2007 alone would kill me. At first glance it would be lovely to note that the Islanders go on a 5 game road trip to end the season. Advantage Winnipeg right? Nope. The Isles are 12-5-2 on the road this year. If the Rangers would have been able to beat the Islanders in regulation Saturday night, the Jets would have taken control of their own destiny against them once again, but the April 20th matchup between these two teams will be monumental for either teams’ playoff chances regardless.
You never know. The Sens have slipped a little bit, but the team that everyone thought was going to crash and burn after injuries to so many stars has managed to hold on. Now with some of those stars (Craig Anderson mainly) returning, the odds of them completely collapsing are unlikely, but possible. Five of their remaining 7 games are on home ice, where the Sens have gone 13-3-3 this year, but where I think the real interest for Jets fans pops up in their two match-ups against Washington. Worst case scenario, they split those games. Best case? Ottawa beats Washington both times. I would be willing to take Washington sweeping them, but when you consider the games in hand and factor in the slightly easier schedule Ottawa faces, odds are better that Washington slides further.
Four of the Jets final 6 games are at home and although they have had troubles this year in the MTS Centre, the crowd HAS to serve as an advantage during this final stretch. They get the chance to play against two of the teams they are directly chasing in New York and Washington, and have been benefitted with a nice four day break before heading into this crucial stretch.
I really do believe the Jets still have a chance to squeak in. I don’t see the Rangers or the Sens as teams that will fall out, but I am still not sold on the Islanders, and the Capitals rough road can really open doors. That being said, they are probably going to need to go 5-1-0 during this drive to really give it a go. Scoreboard watching is still a sport of interest for right now, but the games Jets fans will really want to watch are the two Caps/Sens games. If Ottawa can sweep that series, and the Jets can manage to beat Washington, you would have to think the Jets will take the Southeast with that 5-1-0 record. I understand that’s a lot of optimism, but this is the situation the Jets have put themselves in, and at this point optimism is needed. So enjoy this final stretch, and happy hoping!