The Winnipeg Jets are going to miss the playoffs this season. That much is clear. The quick and easy answer is they haven’t been good enough. You don’t need an engineering degree to understand that, but some of their losses (we’re going to call them “should have won”) would cause even the smartest to raise an eyebrow, and herein lies the reason they’re not going to the postseason.
Many losses were brushed off with the most cliched of post-game comments: “We need to look ahead to the next game.” However, if we group together all the “should have won” games and add them up, it’s easy to see why they have been left in the metaphorical dust in 2021-22.
Jets Can Point to the Lowly Flyers
The Jets have been consistently inconsistent this season, playing impressively one night, then awful the next. Right before the All-Star Break, they visited the St. Louis Blues, and two nights later, they travelled to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.
The Jets went into St. Louis on a Saturday afternoon with backup goaltender Eric Comrie in net. They turned in a solid 60-minute effort, defeating the Blues 4-1. Comrie stopped 28 of 29 shots, and the Jets skated very well, transitioning the puck out of their end consistently and playing with great pace. The win was a bright spot and marked the end of a six-game winless streak where they had dropped to sixth place in the Central Division, as Winnipeg looked to enter the All-Star Break on a positive note with another win ahead versus the Flyers.
At the time, the Flyers were mired in their own embarrassing 13-game losing streak – their second double-digit losing streak of the season. With Connor Hellebuyck in the pipes, the Jets scored in the first minute of the game, as Jets fans were thinking, “Here we go!” However, they didn’t score again and were badly outplayed by a Flyers team that had no direction at the time. They were uninspired, and the 3-1 loss was a definite low point. Instead of going into the break with momentum, it was another reminder of who the Jets are this season.
The Jets then repeated this scenario a week later. Immediately following the break, they defeated the Minnesota Wild at home, then took to the road and lost an overtime game to the Dallas Stars despite outworking their host. They followed that up the very next night with a resounding win over the Nashville Predators in Tennessee. Again, the roller coaster was on a high, taking five of a possible six points to start the second half of the season. Upon returning to Winnipeg, their first opponent was the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the few teams behind them in the Central Division, and they lost 3-1 in one of their poorest efforts at home this season. Just when the Jets looked to turn things around, they fell flat on their faces, and fans were, again, extremely disappointed.
Jets Have Given Too Many Points Away
Let’s not forget the 1-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes in November, the 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres in December, the 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in January, not to mention the 5-2 loss the Ottawa Senators and 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in the past month; all teams below the Jets in the standings, all games they “should have won”, and all with valuable points that playoff-bound teams would have eaten up.
Take those missed points on the “should have won” list and add them to the single point they gave away to Minnesota in October, and they would be in a different spot today. You may remember the third game of the season when they had the victory all but wrapped up before Kyle Connor went offside on a 3-on-1 break to eradicate Mark Scheifele’s empty-net goal. That goal would have sealed the victory, but instead, the Wild immediately pushed back after the officials’ review and scored with 59 seconds left in the third period to tie the game before winning in overtime.
The Jets have left 15 points on the table with those “should have won” games. Those points would have them sitting with 96, five ahead of the Predators for the first wild-card spot. Those losses have also highlighted the Achilles’ heel for the Jets this season: they play down to their opponent and have not won more than two games in a row since the middle of November. Consistency has been a major problem.
Jets Are Not a Playoff Team
What’s telling about the last two months of the season is the Jets’ record, which has hidden how poorly they have played. They’re hanging around in the playoff race for the final wild-card spot, but that’s an illusion, and here’s why. In the last 30 games, the Jets have a 14-13-3 record. Not great, but enough to stay in the hunt. Yet, in those 30 games, they have beaten playoff teams only twice. Twelve of their 14 wins since mid-February have been against teams below the playoff line, and they have a 2-11-2 record against teams above it. That’s a meagre six of a possible 30 points against “good teams.”
And if the weekend’s dusting confirmed anything, it’s that the Jets are a long way from competing with the upper echelon of the league.
Scott Billeck (from “Sunshine State stumble leaves Jets’ playoff hopes on life support”, Winnipeg Sun, 17/04/2022)
It’s said that to be a champion, you have to win all the games you should win and some of the games you shouldn’t. With the Jets’ lack of consistency, they have done neither, and now they’re paying the price.
Keith Forsyth is a freelance writer and sports junkie from rural Manitoba who is covering the Winnipeg Jets for The Hockey Writers. Keith loves all sports and is a huge fan of the NFL (Skol Vikings… if you know, you know) and the Montreal Expos (they’re coming back… you watch!). He recently retired from the education world teaching high school, where his greatest passion was coaching young athletes. He brings that same logical, behind the bench type of approach to you as he delivers an insightful look into the NHL and specifically the Jets. For interview requests or content info, follow Keith on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.