There are always races for the few remaining playoff spots. They are fun and exciting, but having one so close to home is another element in itself. The Jets captured third place in the East briefly but then lost it to Florida after the Panthers beat up on the lowly Habs this past Sunday. We are still very much a contender in this race, but having played four more games than Florida and three more games than Washington is a bit unsettling .
The Jets have only lost once in regulation since February 14th. They have collected 10 points over that stretch, which is exactly what we need if we want to continue to make a case for the playoffs. If the Jets can continue this run, the playoffs are in their sights. However, the effort displayed against the Oilers was lack luster and it needs to be better in the games ahead.
I understand that the Oilers are full of young talent, and they will arguably be a cup contender in a few years, but we cannot lose these “win-able” games if we want to be successful. They looked exhausted which is difficult to understand considering their was a good day between games.
The game against the Blues was big, we needed that extra point. The effort was clearly there, and the defensive play I thought was stellar. When you have 42 shots on net and your goalie only faces 16, you should win the game. With that being said, Jarloslav Halak has been excellent this year and played solid against the Jets.
The Jets play five of their next seven games at home. But don’t expect the wins to come easily. We have a two big divisional match-ups against the Panthers on Thursday and the Capitals on March 16th. Also in that stretch of games we take on the Canucks, who are one of the leagues elite teams. I see three games that are “guaranteed wins” on this portion of the schedule. We have to steal the two points away from teams like Buffalo, Dallas, and Carolina if we want to make the playoffs.
A few players in my mind need to keep their foot on the gas if we want to enter the playoffs with a head full of steam. Alex Burmistrov had a goal and an assist against the Oil, and it looks like he may finally be turning into that skilled center that we want him to be. The line of Burmistov, Wellwood and Kane is a solid line of skill, so look for this line to produce.
Blake Wheeler had a bit of hiccup against the Oilers as he failed to register a point for the first time in ten days. He seemed a little lost on Monday, but if he continues to shoot, and create scoring opportunities, the Jets are in good shape. He and his line mates in Ladd and Little look good as they continue to log the most ice-time out of all the forwards.
The final player that needs to continue to stay on his game is Ondrej Pavelec. If he continues to play stellar, then it’s up to the troops in front to score goals. I have always thought he has the potential to be an elite goalie who could single handily win a team a Stanley Cup. But when he is bad, well, his is awful. We don’t need him to give performances like the one against the Oilers, and the Penguins back on February 11th. Although when he is on, he is a brick wall for the Jets. Just ask Jakub Voracek. With Mason being a solid back-up option, we can give Pavelec the rest he needs so when it comes down to crunch time, he can make those big saves when we need em’.
If I had to make a prediction right now, I would venture to guess that the Jets make the playoffs, but I think it is still too early to tell as to what position they finish. I will say this though, I don’t want to play the Rangers in the first round, they are scary good.