In what will be a strong contender for most obvious statement of the year made on this website; a good start to the season will be critical.
Will .500 hockey from the Jets be acceptable? It wasn’t last season. So what should we expect this coming season?
Last Season Compared To This Season
Last year at the end of November, the Jets were a game (or three games depending who you ask) below the break even point with a 11-12-2 record. They had closed out the month with a pair of back to back wins after a brutal eastern roadtrip which saw them lose five in a row.
They sat tied for 9th in the Western Conference and were only one point out of a playoff spot thanks mostly to just as inconsistent play from the likes of the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild.
In those first two months, the Jets played a total of 25 games. 13 road, 12 home.
This season, in the first two months the Jets will again play a total of 15 games, 14 road, 11 home.
The season before the Jets played in four back-to-backs, one of them being a home/road back to back, the other three were all on the road.
This season the first two months of the Jets schedule sees them play three back-to-backs, all on the road. Unlike the season before however when all four BTB’s came after a single day off (typically a travel day for the Jets), the Jets will have at two of their BTB’s come after a stretch of multiple days off. In one case, before a back to back on the road against Pittsburgh and then Columbus, the team will have five days between games.
While the excuse of “they’ve had a tough schedule” was a bit tiring to hear for most Jets fans, the truth is the schedule wasn’t exactly kind and didn’t allow for much of any kind of practice time.
This season looks to be a little different.
How Will They Start This Season?
It’s fun to speculate right?
Let’s do a little of that by breaking down the first two months – 25 games – into five game segments.
Segment 1: Oct 4 vs TOR, Oct 7 @ CGY, Oct 9 @ EDM, Oct 12 @ VAN, Oct 14 vs CAR
Ideal result: 3-1-1
Expected result: 2-3-0
Worst case: 2-3-0
That Canucks game should be a win even on the road and ideally the Jets take one of the two games in Alberta. The Jets did well enough (1-0-1) against the Leafs last season so an OTL to start the season wouldn’t be the worst outcome. Carolina has improved this summer and will have had three days off leading into this game while it’s the Jets return home from their opening road trip, so this is the first of our “could go either way” results.
Segment 2: Oct 17 vs CBJ, Oct 20 vs MIN, Oct 26 @ PIT, Oct 27 @ CBJ, Oct 29 vs PIT
Ideal result: 3-1-1
Expected result: 2-1-2
Worst case: 1-3-1
Two games against the defending champs, two against one of the better teams in the Eastern conference and one against a division rival. Ideally the Jets beat the Wild to set the tone for that season series, steal one win from the first BTB they see this season (likely Columbus) and then hang tough against the Pens at home and draw a point out of them. Should be do-able as the Pens will be in the back end of theor own road BTB having played in Minnesota the night before.
Segment 3: Oct 31 @ MIN, Nov 2 vs DAL, Nov 4 vs MTL, Nov 6 @ DAL, Nov 10 @ LV
Ideal result: 4-1-0
Expected result: 3-2-0
Worst case: 2-2-1
The Wild may be primed for revenge at home on Halloween night, and the Jets ideally need to take one of the two games they have against the Stars. That first game against Vegas needs to be a win against an expansion and the Montreal game is again a “could go either way” with them being in the middle of a Central division road trip.
Segment 4: Nov 11 @ ARI, Nov 14 vs ARI, Nov 16 vs PHI, Nov 18 vs NJ, Nov 20 @ NSH
Ideal result: 4-0-1
Expected result: 4-1-0
Worst case: 2-3-0
This is the time for the Jets to establish themselves. if they haven’t won three in a row yet (which is possible) then this is a prime chance to get an extended win streak going. The game in Arizona is the second of a BTB road effort, but Arizona is in that category of “teams the Jets need to beat” .. The Flyers and Devils were non-playoff teams that had holes last season and didn’t get any better over the summer. A trip to Nashville may be the toughest task on this segment but with any luck the Jets have a five game win streak (or at least are winners of four of their last five) and some momentum to steal a point out of Music City.
Segment 5: Nov 22 @ LA, Nov 24 @ ANA, Nov 25 @ SJ, Nov 27 vs MIN, Nov 29 @ COL
Ideal result: 2-2-1
Expected result: 2-2-1
Worst case: 1-4-0
The “easiest” stretch the Jets have is followed up by maybe the toughest. the California road trip is always tough and while the Sharks and Ducks haven’t done themselves any favors this summer in getting better, it’s probably safe to expect a loss in one of those two games while the other may see an overtime loss point gained. The LA game is another “could go either way” and while the Jets will be in tough against the Wild (again) they at least get a small reprieve in Colorado to finish off the month of November.
Ideal result: 16-4-5
Expected result: 13-8-3
Worst case: 8-14-3
It’s amazing the difference a couple of games make.
Teams last season that had 13 wins (or more) at the end of November last season include the likes of the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The other difference is overtime losses. Some of the teams listed above had at least three if not four “loser points” earned.
The Anaheim Ducks were 11-8-4 at the end of November last season. Same amount of wins as the Jets, but gained a point in twice as many games and so instead of being under .500 in terms of possible points earned, they were 3 points over that .500 mark.
In the end, the “target” for the Jets should be 13 wins. 13 wins this season is only a two win improvement compared to last season and it’s possible that it may not feel like there has been much progress in the Jets quest to go from “NHL participant” to “playoff contender”, but those two extra wins should be the difference between the Jets “chasing” teams for playoff position and being right in the middle of the pack of teams in playoff position and setting the pace for teams below them.