Playoff Push: Idle Jets will be scoreboard watching on Thursday night

It wasn’t that long ago the Winnipeg Jets were riding high on a five-game winning streak and in cruise control for a playoff berth.

Fast forward two weeks later, the Jets are now clinging to the final wild-card spot in the West with 90 points as the Los Angeles Kings breathe down their necks and the Calgary Flames pull ahead.

Let’s take a look at the Jets situation after the jump.

Final Playoff Push

After back-to-back crushing defeats this week, the idle Jets are left scoreboard watching on Thursday night as the Kings can tie them in the standings with a victory over the lowly Oilers.

The Kings are 2-0-1 against the Oilers this season.

“We realize the games are bigger right now and there is some tension out there,” Jets centre Bryan Little told the Winnipeg Sun. “(Nerves) are there. I don’t think it’s affecting our game at all. If that’s our biggest problem right now, it’s not even an issue.”

The Jets have five games remaining — four against playoff-bound teams. On the flipside, the Kings have the luxury of playing the Oilers twice in their final six games.

The Jets now have a 47.8% chance of making the playoffs, according to clubsportsstats.com.

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Here are three things to watch down the stretch as the Jets fight for a playoff spot:

Pavelec or Hutchinson?

You can’t blame the last two losses on Ondrej Pavelec, but Jets head coach Paul Maurice isn’t shy about switching goalies when times are tough.

Michael Hutchinson has only seen one start in the past eight games, but maybe he’ll see more action down the stretch and regain the No. 1 job.

Life without Big Buff

The Jets have proven they can hold their own without Dustin Byfuglien. But how will they fare without their top defenceman, who will serve a four-game suspension for a crosscheck to the neck of Rangers forward JT Miller.

The Jets went 6-4-0 over a 10-game span while Byfuglien was sidelined with an upper-body injury.

Penalty pain

The Jets rank second behind the Pittsburgh Penguins as the most penalized to in the NHL. At 13.45 penalty minutes per game, the Jets will need to stay out of the box against potent power play teams like the Blues (22.3%) and the Canucks (18.9%).