The Road: Where the bonds between teammates can solidify and strengthen. It’s a necessary part of sports, going into the opposing team’s territory and battling it out on their grounds. Half of every team’s games are away from home and championships are won in the ability to replicate that same intensity and confidence on the road that a team plays with in their own building.
The Winnipeg Jets have had trouble replicating that MTS Centre success in other arenas around the NHL. Before they took on the Vancouver Canucks, their road winning percentage was at .393. In the Post Lockout Era (PLE) the lowest road winning percentage for a playoff team was the 2006-07 Calgary Flames at .394.
The Jets sit with 11 road wins this season and with nine of their last 15 games away from the comfy confines of the MTS Centre, staying at their current road success rate is simply not an option should they want to be playing hockey in late April.
The Jets have taken home the full two points in ten different cities this season (Philadelphia twice). The teams the Jets have beaten in their own rink sport a combined .594 home winning percentage. The games the Jets have left on the road won’t be easy. The nine teams the Jets are facing share a combined home record of 166-87-39, that’s good enough for a .656 home winning percentage. Only two teams (Carolina and the Islanders) of those nine remaining road games have a worse record that the average of the teams the Jets have managed to beat in enemy territory so far (.594).
But there’s reason to be optimistic, of the remaining games the Jets have away from the MTS, five of those games are against teams the Jets have already beaten away from home and only four of the nine teams are in a playoff position as of right now. However, six of the nine remaining road games are on back-to-backs and the Jets have not fared well on the tail end of those back-to-back situations this season.
The Jets will have to play better than they have on the road. They’ll have to find ways to win these games and really grind it out; not just to make the playoffs, but to be successful in the post-season. The Jets, right now are on pace for 14-15 road wins. Ninety-six teams have made the post season since the lockout, only nine of those teams have made it in with 17 or fewer wins away from home. Of those nine teams, five bowed out in the first round. Winning on the road is important in making the post-season and absolutely necessary for being successful in it.
The stretch run has already begun, and with the majority of remaining games being out of their comfort zone, performing like they have on the road so far will simply not cut it. The Jets have shown a great deal of character in the previous few weeks; winning games that many, including myself, just did not see them winning. Successful seasons live and die on the road, and with only a month left in the regular season, the road is where the Jets’ 2011-12 campaign with flourish or parish.