The road to the playoffs

Winnipeg Whiteout. The title of this website illustrates how Jets fans feel about our home team. It was Winnipeg who made the whiteout famous. It was Winnipeg who flooded the streets of Portage and Main when they were told their team was coming back. It was Winnipeg who has the collective creativity to chant “Crosby’s better!” to Alexander Ovechkin.

Jets fans love to watch their team live at the MTS Centre, and their team feels the same way. Despite the Jets being on the outside looking in for a playoff spot in the East, they hold the seventh best home record in the NHL, which is third in the Eastern Conference. Because of their success at home, the Jets find themselves in a tight race to get into the playoffs, but all season long there has been one obstacle in the way of their goal: the road.

The Jets are the third worst road team in the league, and hold the worst road record in the Eastern Conference. Their road woes are clearly one of their biggest frustrations of the season, and when you take a look at history, things are looking grim for the Jets.

In the last five seasons, the 2008-2009 Montreal Canadians are the only team to earn the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with a sub .500 record on the road. As great as the Jets have been at home, this stat shows how important road wins are in a tight playoff race. Currently, the Jets are 11-19-4 on the road and are far cry from teams like the New York Rangers, who last season fought their way into the eighth seed with a 24-16-1 record away from home.

The good news for the Jets is that misery has company, as the Capitals, Sabres and the Maple Leafs– the three other teams fighting for the eighth seed – are all below .500 on the road. The bad news is that in the last ten games of the season the Jets play seven on the road, where the Capitals play six, the Sabres five, and the Leafs four.

It’s great that the Jets are so good at home, but if they want any realistic chance at a playoff spot, they need to figure out their road problems – and fast.  If they can do that, they may even be able to make some noise in the post-season. Because with the way this season has gone, a win for the visiting team in the MTS Centre is as tough as they come.

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Joey Traa is a life long sports fan, and a Creative Communications student at Winnipeg's Red River College. He's also a writer for the WInnipeg Minor Hockey Association. For him, the NHL is an item of passion and study, and with the Jets back in town, it makes it all that much better. He's also always had a fascination of sports media, which makes the opportunity to write about his local sports team that much more of a blessing. You can read more from Joey on his blog at joeytraa.blogspot.com

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