The shortened NHL season is coming down to the wire for many teams with just one week remaining in the regular season. The Winnipeg Jets are just one of the teams battling for a chance to play in the playoffs.
It’s been an uphill battle for the Jets ever since they went on a five-game losing streak a few weeks ago. The Jets are coming off a six-game homestand where they went 5-0-1 and took 11 of the possible 12 points.
The uphill battle to get a playoff spot still continues as we head into the final week of the regular season.
The Jets have three games left and sit at ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They are also three points back of the division-leading Washington Capitals, and three back of the eighth-placed New York Rangers. The Capitals and Rangers also have three games remaining in their season.
It will be difficult for the Jets to make the playoffs, but still very possible. Winning out is the safest path and there is still one game on the Jets schedule that could determine who makes the playoffs or not. Let’s take a look at their remaining games.
First, the Jets will go to Buffalo to take on the Sabres Monday night. The Sabres are eliminated from playoff contention and are playing for nothing at this point, but they are still a dangerous team, especially at home.
The Jets will then play the second game of a back-to-back on Tuesday in Washington to take on the Capitals. Obviously, this is the biggest game of them all and one that could determine who makes the playoffs and who stays home.
Finally, the Jets wrap up the 2013 season at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. The Habs have been struggling of late and are in a head-to-head battle against the Boston Bruins for the Northeast Division. The Habs will not take that game lightly even though they’ve already clinched a playoff berth.
It’s a pretty difficult schedule with each game being important as the last. There is no such thing as an easy win especially going into Buffalo on Monday. The Jets have to play each of these games with the utmost effort and not even think about playoffs. If they lose once, it’s all but over.
Can the Jets win out? I think it's very possible.
The game on Tuesday against the Capitals is the most critical only if the Jets take care of business on Monday first. Two points should be the only thing on the Jets' mind in Buffalo. There is no such thing as looking ahead when you need every possible point.
Even if the Jets win out, there's still no guarantee they would make the playoffs. It's the best they can do though. The Jets just have to win their games first and scoreboard watch afterwards.
Let’s take a look at the remaining games on the Capitals and Rangers schedules.
The Capitals will be home against Winnipeg on Tuesday, home against Ottawa on Thursday and wrap up the season home against Boston on Saturday. The Rangers will be on the road against the Panthers on Tuesday, in Carolina on Thursday and home on Saturday against New Jersey.
The Capitals have a difficult schedule while the Rangers have a much easier path to the playoffs. At this point the Jets would gladly take the eighth seed, but the easier path is winning the division because the Jets still face the Capitals.
Whatever happens to the Capitals and Rangers, all of it is irrelevant if the Jets can’t win their own games first. This is something you just have to take one game at a time because of the fact that every game is equally important.
It starts on Monday in Buffalo.
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