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What the Winnipeg Jets need to do in order to stay alive in the playoffs and force a game 6

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Photo credit:© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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It’s the night before game 5 for the Winnipeg Jets round 1 matchup against the Colorado Avalanche, and there is a certainly a tension in the air for the team and fans. That tension mostly exists because the team is now down 3-1 in the series. It’s win or go home in game 5, and there’s no more room for error with the Jets if they want their season to continue now. After a hectic game 1 win, the last 3 games have not gone how the Jets wanted them to at all. The Jets were outscored 16-5 over these 3 games, leaving fans with a whole lot of questions for the team about what’s gone wrong.
You probably know the age old saying “it ain’t over till it’s over”, and that’s certainly the case with the Jets this series. They’ll have to adopt the mindset of one game and one win at at time. You’ve probably heard a team say that may times before, particularly in the playoffs, but it’s really the mindset that a team needs to have once a series approaches an end result.
Going back to all the questions that Jets fans have been left to think about after game 5, I thought it would be best to focus on what they need to do to stay alive in the playoffs and take home a win in game 5. No more suggestions or given number of ideas like I’ve done before, but rather a simple analysis of what the Jets have to do to get a win.
Before I get “analyzing”, so to speak, make sure to check out Illegal Curve’s post, where I viewed the player media interviews from earlier today. The Jets didn’t skate today, but Neal Pionk, Adam Lowry and Rick Bowness were a few of the Jets that answered some of the important questions and concerns from the media. I’ll also be including some on my own thoughts as to how their answers relate to the bigger picture of going out there in game 5 and doing what’s needed to get a win.
Beginning with the bigger picture before game 5, it’s all about the mindset of the team that matters most in a potential elimination game. You’ve heard me use the word mindset a lot, but what do some of the players think about the idea of the right mindset? One of the 1st questions Neal Pionk was asked about was the mindset and approach for the team in game 5, and he said
“Little victories and shift by shift. We can’t look at the big picture right now, we just got to win the 1st period, win the 2nd period, win the 3rd period, and go from there.”
It’s true that the Jets can’t look at the fact that they need to win 3 straight games against the Avalanche if they want their season to continue. Game 5 needs to be broken down in to little parts of the game. Doing so allows the players to assess their performance mid-game, without hopefully over-analyzing every little mistake that’s made. The Jets know that if they lose their season is over. They also know that they need to focus on having a full 60 minute team performance to maximize their chances of winning.
Mindset is just one part of the puzzle for the Jets in game 5. Another focus that the Jets need to have on game day is finding solutions to the aspects of the team’s game that hasn’t worked so far in this series. Captain Adam Lowry mentioned how the team needs to adapt to what’s needed to win, and he said
“There’s areas of our game that we need to clean up. There’s areas we know need to be better. It’s not letting guys off the hook, it’s being accountable and finding ways to kind of stop some of their best players. I think everyone in this room would agree that we all can play better and that’s what we’re going to look to do tomorrow.”
Accountability is key in the playoffs. It’s important that the Jets have not just a certain level of chemistry in the playoffs, but they also need to be on equal terms of understanding how the team is expected to play. It’s not always an easy thing to accomplish, but once you get the team fully committed to the style of hockey that you want to play, the results will show themselves in game.
That sort of gives you the picture of some of the thoughts going through the players’ minds before game 5. What about what coach Rick Bowness has to say about the musts in game 5 to keep the season and series alive? I’m sure that Bowness is feeling the pressure, and he understands that changes will need to be made both in terms of the lineup and how the team plays. Rick Bowness mentioned a couple things that need to be done in game 5, when he said
“There’s a couple. First and foremost is that it’s got to start with each individual’s intensity and battle level. When you start losing those battles on the boards or net front you end up chasing them, and we’re chasing them too much right now. It starts with our puck management, they’re getting way too many chances off the rush because of our turnovers. So those are individual mistakes that we have to clean up.”
Bowness also went on to mention the lack of discipline that has cost the Jets numerous times this series. It’s certainly a combination of a good powerplay unit for the Avalanche but also poor penalty killing from the Jets. It’s simple though, the fewer penalties they take, the less powerplay chances the Avalanche will get. Penalties will happen in the playoffs, whether undisciplined or not, but it’s knowing how to respond to this in game adversity that will allow the team to push forward in the game.
Going back to the other aspects that Bowness mentioned, intensity and battle level are other elements that relate to having the right mindset when it’s game time. As a coach, you can make as many changes as you want, but until the players, as individuals, show a certain compete level, there won’t be noticeable improvements on the ice. Turnovers have also cost the Jets more than 1 goal this series, and the Jets need to remember to be careful controlling the puck in their own end. Having a plan A and a plan B and so on is one way of dealing with puck management, but ultimately it’s up to the player with the puck to know where the next pass needs to go.
That’s just a few of the many questions that players have been asked as they prepare for game 5. There of course were some injury updates and possible lineup changes that were hinted at, but I’ll cover those for you in my game 5 preview / game day tomorrow afternoon. Until then, Jets fans just need to collectively stay calm, be patient, and lock in on this crucial win or go home game 5 on Tuesday night.

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