After a disappointing loss to the Montreal Canadiens the Winnipeg Jets sit in 10th place with 54 points – 5 points back of Florida for the Southeast lead and 3rd place, or 6 points back of Toronto and the 8th seed. The reality is sinking in that only one team from the southeast will likely make the post season. And if a second team does it’ll be a last day sneak in.
From day one the Jets have set the target of 96 points which they believed would result in a post season birth. The simple math tells us for the Jets to reach that goal they need to win three out of every four games from now on out. They have 28 games left and can only drop 14 points. More than seven loses and that goal will not be reached.
But is 96 points the magic number? Lets take a moment to examine what it will take for the Jets to reach the playoffs this season.
The Panthers are first overall in the Southeast, they have 59 points with 31 games remaining. They play the Jets two more times, the Capitals three times and they played their last game against the Lightning yesterday. They play 16 games against teams that currently are outside of the playoffs, 23 games against Eastern Conference teams and 9 of those against the Southeast division.
They have a 1 point lead over Washington, 5 points over Winnipeg and 8 points up on Tampa Bay. They’ve played 1 less game than Washington, 3 less than Winnipeg and on par with Tampa Bay.
Predicting the rest of their games we estimate they will be 13-11-7 and finish with 92 points.
The Capitals are second overall in the Southeast. They have 57 points with 30 games remaining. They play the Jets three more times, the Panthers three times and the Lightning two times. They play 13 games against teams that currently are outside of the playoffs, 26 games against Eastern Conference teams and 11 of those against the Southeast division.
They trail Florida by 1 point and lead Winnipeg by 3 points and Tampa Bay by 6 points. They’ve played 1 more game than Washington and Florida and 2 less than Winnipeg.
Predicting the rest of their games we estimate they will be 14-11-4 and finish with 90 points.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are in a similar situation with the Jets but with three games in hand, could easily be ahead of the Jets right now. They are fourth overall in the Southeast with 51 points and 31 games remaining. They play the Jets three more times, the Capitals two times and they played their last game against the Panthers yesterday. They play 14 games against teams that currently are outside of the playoffs, 26 games against Eastern Conference teams and 8 of those against the Southeast division.
They trail Florida by 8 points, Washington by 7 points and Winnipeg by 3 points. They’ve played 1 less game than Washington, 3 less than Winnipeg and on par with Florida.
Predicting the rest of their games we estimate they will be 13-13-3 and finish with 80 points.
That brings us to the Winnipeg Jets, and while 96 points would likely be the target to squeak into 8th place, thanks to a weak Southeast we feel that 93 points will win them the division. That doesn’t give them much wiggle room but it does give them a bit more of a realistic chance than 96 points.
The Jets are third overall in the Southeast, they have 53 points with 28 games remaining. They play the Panthers two more times, the Capitals three times and they play the Lighting three more times as well. They play 14 games against teams that currently are outside of the playoffs, 22 games against Eastern Conference teams and 10 of those against the Southeast division.
They trail Florida by 5 points, Washington by 4 points and are ahead of Tampa Bay by 3 points. They’ve played 2 more games than Washington, 3 more than Tampa Bay and Florida.
For the Jets to make the playoffs we predict they will need a record of 18-6-3 for 39 more points giving them a total of 93. Is it doable? Quite possibly, but for the most part as we mentioned at the start, the Jets will have to win 3 out of every 4 games and doing that is much less of a daunting task than trying to lose only 6 or 7 games in regulation from here on out.
A Closer Look
So taking a closer look at what lies ahead for Winnipeg, we’ll see how tough it will be for them to make the playoffs. No challenge might be harder for them than scoring goals. Since the All Star break they’ve managed only 3 goals in regulation over four games. The second challenge they’ll need to overcome is finding a way to win the second game of the back-to-back. They are 0-8 currently with three more back-to-backs in March.
We’d have to assume those will be losses (Boston, Calgary, Tampa Bay) which means that they will only be able to lose another 3-4 games in regulation. We’ve alloted for those losses to come in overtime/shootout losses to Washington, Pittsburgh and Washington again, with regulation loses to come against Vancouver, Nashville and New York Rangers.
That does mean the Jets will have to find a way to beat the Penguins and Wild on the road while all but running the table at home (previously noted losses against Bruins and Rangers are the only two home losses allowed) to make the post season. The Jets will need to go 14-2-0 at home giving them a 29-10-2 record at home on the season.
They will need to string together win streaks of 7, 4 and 3 games unless they can find a way to win a back to back game or beat the Rangers. At the same time they can not lose more than two games in a row from here on out.
All this seems pretty daunting – and it is – but it’s not unachievable. And what the players need to focus on is winning one game at a time and winning three out of four games. When you focus on doing that, the playoffs aren’t that far fetched.
At the end of the day though, the Jets will be hard pressed to make the post season. You can see the complete predictions for the Jets, Panthers, Capitals and Lightning for the remaining games.
Tampa Bay Lightning