It’s looking less and less likely the Winnipeg Jets will make the playoffs this season.
They may only be five points out right now, but that hole is vastly larger than it seems. The current points system is designed to make playoff races look closer than they actually are; when teams can lose and still earn a point, it’s very difficult to make up ground.
Last year seven of the East’s top eight teams at the all-star break made the playoffs.
If the Jets do miss out, there are parts of the schedule you can point to as the reason why. It’s not the sluggish start in October. It’s not the awful January that cancelled out an excellent December. Though those certainly contributed.
Simply put, the Jets lay an egg every time they play on back-to-back nights. And don’t let them or anyone else tell you the awkward divisional alignment is to blame.
After Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Rangers – which the Jets actually played half-decent in, but were robbed by the best goalie in the game – Winnipeg’s record in the second half of back-to-back games dropped to 0-8. And in those games they’ve been outscored 34-6.
But it’s not as though the overnight travel in those games has been overly demanding. Included in those back-to-backs were trips from New Jersey to New York, Montreal to Toronto and even one where they played at home on consecutive nights. Only once was there a trip that could be considered onerous, when they travelled from Winnipeg to Detroit in early December.
Only one other team, the Dallas Stars, have gone 0-for in this situation. The next worst team has managed to accumulate three points in the second half of back-to-back nights, with a couple teams having earned four. If the Jets even reached this minimum requirement they’d be one or two points out of the top-eight and have a much more realistic chance of finishing in the playoffs.
There’s really no excuse for being this abysmal and being outscored as profoundly as the Jets have in this scenario.
Each and every one of the 82 games played throughout the season is incredibly important to a team’s playoff fate and you can’t afford to take a night off. Not only have the Jets taken one night off – it seems they’ve taken eight.
And they have six more of these nights left in the season. Travelling from Washington to Nashville in late-March will be the worst part of the schedule, but they’ll mostly be making short jaunts from one city to the next.
If they don’t earn points – and lots of them – in these games starting now, there is no doubt the Jets will still be on the outside looking in come April.