Winnipeg Jets: Will a Shortened Season Benefit or Hurt the Jets' Playoff Chances
We're nearing the end of October, and under normal circumstances, we would have already seen two or three weeks of regular season action in the NHL. However, this time around, we're all still living in this dreadful lockout that seems to be a neverending nightmare with no timetable of actually being resolved.
Through all the rumors and meetings between the NHL and NHLPA, both sides seem optimistic that a season will happen. Many fans and followers of this sport seem to share the same optimism as well. But the only question to be asked is when.
When will the season begin?
We have already lost all of October and all of November. December seems like a good month to speculate the possible beginning of the season, but even that may not happen. As this continues to drag out, at what cost does this affect the teams and players as far as the actual season when it comes to actually competing?
If and when the season is set to begin, it's almost certain that the schedule will differ from the normal 82-game format—which means fewer games. Less games means less odds at making the playoffs. A shortened season—say, 60 or fewer games—could hurt the Winnipeg Jets' chances at making the playoffs.
In a normal 82-game season, the odds of making the playoffs are already stacked high against the Jets. For a team like Winnipeg, they need every game they can get to remain in contention for as long as possible. With a shorter season, it becomes even more difficult to keep up in the playoff race.
The Jets started off the 2011-12 season on an inconsistent streak that haunted them the entire year. They couldn't score goals or prevent them from going in. When December came around, the Jets had their best month of the season. Once January hit, they went right back to being as inconsistent as ever. Through all that, they remained in playoff contention.
With a shortened season on hand, there isn't time to be inconsistent for a month. The opportunity to rebound could easily slip away. One bad slump could knock you out of a playoff race before the actual race even begins.
From the beginning to the end, every regular season game becomes more significant and losing becomes more crucial. A five game losing streak would be devastating in a short season because the window to make up ground closes fast.
The Jets aren't built to be a top team in 2012-13, but after acquiring talent in the offseason, playoff expectations are real. A shorter season makes it much more difficult for playoffs to be a real possibility. It puts a lot of pressure on the young players and puts a lot of underachievers under the radar.
The Jets aren't built to play with a lead right out of the gates. Even if they began the season with a hot start, they'd have to remain that "hot" for a number of games, something they aren't capable of. Consistency will be the most important factor in a shortened season.
From the start of the season, every game will feel like it has playoff implications to it. The Jets don't want to dig their way into any type of month-to-month slump this season because they may never have the opportunity to dig themselves out.
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