The Winnipeg Jets have been playing poorly. It’s no secret. They are on a 90 point pace since the beginning of 2019, which, while adequate, isn’t up to their talent level.
But the Winnipeg Jets are somehow still atop the Central Division. They’re at the top of the division in goal differential, too, at +31, but that’s just sixth in the league.
They have the second most goals in the division, too, sitting just one behind…the Chicago Blackhawks? Huh, how about that. They’re in last, by the way.
In their last ten games, the Jets are 4-5-1, which is: bad. But the Predators, who are just one point behind them in the standings, are 5-5-0. In fact, no team has won more than six of their last ten games in the Central.
They are all scuffling a bit, which is a big departure from last season, when it looked like the NHL’s toughest division. This is great news for the Winnipeg Jets. They’ve been dealing with injuries to the blueline and, yes, mediocre goaltender play for much of the season.
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And when they’ve needed it, like against the backup goaltender of the Washington Capitals, the offense has not been there. Nashville has some similar struggles.
A team built on elite defenseman and goaltending, they have a pretty lengthy injury report and Pekka Rinne certainly won’t be a repeat winner of the Vezina Trophy.
Now, this is mainly important because while Winnipeg’s overall record of 40-24-4 is rock solid, their road record is 18-16-0, and they’re 22-8-4 at home. Winning the division would go a long way in giving them some home ice advantages in the playoffs.
It didn’t hurt the Jets last year, as they managed to displace the Nashville Predators in a Game 7 in Tennessee, but that doesn’t mean I’m interested to see if they can do it again.
The long grind of the season is almost over. It’s possible that the team lost a bit of focus and knew they’d be in it. Once you get there, you just want to go back. The regular season loses a bit of importance. It’s inevitable.
I’m holding out hope for Morrissey, since I’m starting to have long-term concerns about Byfuglien, considering he’s been in and out of the lineup for as long as I can recall.
Kevin Hayes has really looked the part. I watched him quite a bit with New York, and I never saw him have this kind of impact. He never really had this kind of offensive talent around him, no offense to the Rangers.
Maybe that helps down the stretch. Maybe several things do, maybe nothing does. I don’t know. I can’t imagine the team will continue their poor play into the playoffs, but the last stretch of the season is against some rock solid teams. There’s even a game left against Nashville. Anything could happen.