The Jets Day After: Is This A Playoff Team?

As I write this, the Winnipeg Jets are only one point behind the Arizona Coyotes for wild card spot number two. They are also eight points behind the Dallas Stars for third in the Central Division, so it would appear as though the top three – Dallas along with Colorado and St. Louis – are pulling away from the rest of the field, sealing the fate of the Jets along with Minnesota and Nashville… If a team wants into the playoffs, they are going to have to fight for a wild card spot.

It was with that in mind that Jets faithful and observers about a week ago looked upon a stretch of the next nine games, six of them at home, all of them against teams who also were not in a playoff spot at the time we all looked at said stretch of schedule, and thought “surely, if the jets were going to prove that they were indeed a playoff caliber team, this would be the time to prove it and go on a run.”

A strong effort against Ottawa, and a somewhat late arriving but equally decent game against Chicago lifted hopes, but the last two games have sent them crashing back to earth again probably harder than that four game losing streak before the All-Star Game did.

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We could maybe forgive the game against the New York Rangers. Wins are important, but losses against a non-conference rival always seem a little less harsh. Not to mention, the Rangers if they sported the same record as a team in the Western Conference would be right in the middle of that wild card race as well.

But the San Jose Sharks? Did the Jets really sleep through the first period, and lack any kind of urgency in the third period against the San Jose Sharks? A team that has the second worst goal differential in the west and the third worst save percentage in the league this season, and a roster that boasts less than imposing names such as Radim Simek and Joel Kellman

That’s who the Jets lost to last night? And a day later after that debacle, we’re supposed to believe this is a playoff worthy team?

“Oh, but bad puck luck!” some (like the official Jets twitter account) will claim. “The Jets yet again run into a hot goalie!” others (like the official Jets color TV analyst / head cheerleader) will assert.

Yeah, about that…

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I have yet to see an NHL club win games on a regular basis with such a short, concentrated effort that resembles a high school kid cramming to pass a test in the wee hours of the night to try and make up for all the lost time he spent screwing around.

The Jets only managed three shots in the first period of last night’s game. Of course you can point to the six other glorious chances the Jets had in that period with the puck where they couldn’t manage to aim properly at the six by four foot cage behind Aaron Dell and try to pin that on “puck luck.” You could also do the same for the missed chances they had late in the third when they seemingly had Dell down and out, but either rang shots off the post, or missed wide, or shot it right into the sprawling netminder.

Sure there was all that which worked against the Jets on Friday night, but the biggest contributor to the Jets downfall on Friday night was themselves. Someone needs to inform the Jets that they are no longer in “take a few shifts off” mode or “try to win a game with 10 minutes of effort” territory if they are in fact serious about making the playoffs.

Or they can just continue to play like they did for the first period last Sunday against Blackhawks and the last two games against the Rangers and Sharks… Many fans have already resigned themselves to lottery drat pick status this spring.

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Speaking of other fans comments, let’s go over some shall we?

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Nope, sorry even puppies won’t work this time. Those puppies showed more of a consistent effort to get out of that car than the Jets did last night which only makes me angrier.

What was funny to me was to see Paul Maurice after the game lament how lackadaisical his team was on offense as if he wasn’t the one to direct his team to be all defensive minded and play safe, boring hockey. Kevin Sawyer goes on about how Patrik Laine is a “more complete player” now that has sacrificed his 40+ goal offense to be able to defend better and more often as this team needs and I can’t help but die a little inside as only Paul Maurice could take one of the league’s best shooters from the time he entered as an 18 year old and go “this shooting phenom is great, but what if he just hung around his own end of the ice a lot more and helped out his struggling defense?”

It’s astonishing how Maurice has taken such an offensively talented group and turned them into the 2003-2004 Carolina Hurricanes.

Three more years… Three more years…

You want to know what my biggest fear is? That after the mass-exodus of defensemen the Jets had last summer, Kevin Cheveldayoff – thinking he’s learned a lesson in all of that – goes and signs Dmitry Kulikov to another two year deal north of $3.5 million per season and then on top of that retains both Luca Sbisa (which as a number seven defenseman wouldn’t be that bad an idea really) and Anthony Bitetto as well (completely bad idea)

As for Mark Scheifele… I legit wonder if he’s playing injured right now because he’s not winning any one on one battles and looks a step slower on the ice.

Looks like Kane will indeed suffer some consequences from his actions last night. He took two or three healthy runs at Neal Pionk all game which makes me wonder what the heck that as all about.

Seeing Kane get suspended will be of little solace though as he and the Jets could equally be golfing in April.

Not yet… But if the Jets don’t wake up, soon…