It doesn’t take a bold man to declare the Winnipeg Jets will not make the playoffs now. It did take a bold man to say they would make it before the season and that was basically what I said. On CBC Radio Calgary I declared the Jets would squeak into 8th place based on a strong home record if they could get 15 wins on the road. With 6 games left on the season and 4 road games left, the Jets have 12 wins on the road to go with their 23 at home. If the Jets are to pull off the miraculous they will need to win all 6 of those games giving them 16 road wins.
While I felt they would do it before the season started my optimism has faded into the realization that it’s just not gonna happen this year. The Jets have shown promise and potential and we all knew that the playoffs were a lofty goal let alone doing anything during them. The good news is the Jets were still in the hunt into the final two weeks of the season and a win over the New York Rangers in their next home game on Wednesday will keep them in the race into the final week.
The importance of this can not be overlooked. For a young team with a third of the roster yet to play a single game and a franchise that has played only 4 in their history getting close should fuel that fire to get in next year and consistently. The Jets have taken a Thrashers team that toiled in mediocrity for the majority of its existence and built the foundation to be a contender year after year. We all knew it wouldn’t happen over night but the progress has been made. Even if they lose the final six games and spiral down the standings they are already leaps and bounds ahead in their progress.
They have stayed in the hunt longer than teams like Toronto and Montreal, both of which had looked like playoff contenders before the season started. The fact the Jets could be the fourth best Canadian team ahead of the previously mentioned and the Edmonton Oilers is important too.
So while the Jets will fall short of their goal the lessons learnt will be invaluable to their long-term development. The points that were easily in grasp but let slip away not only would have made the difference between making it or not, but it could have been the difference in winning the division. The Jets had their chances, they simply didn’t take advantage. They weren’t ready.
Next year will be different. They won’t have to deal with the shock of relocation and all that came with it. Next year the playoffs aren’t just the goal it’s the expectation that is set by being in the hunt this year.
Enjoy the final 6 games Jets fans and let’s just hope we can go out on a winning note and go down fighting.