A look back and a look forward at the Winnipeg Jets making the playoffs

Winnipeg Jets (Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Winnipeg Jets (Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. The Jets needed 2 points, but the line taken to obtain them was anything but straight. Their path of resistance led to the sweetest victory, as the Winnipeg Jets cemented a playoff spot with a hard-fought win against the Minnesota Wild.

In a mirror-opposite script from their last matchup against their division rivals, the Jets rode otherworldly goaltending to triumph. Connor Hellebuyck saved the best for last, elevating his play with highlight-reel goaltending that bordered on the absurd.

As Manitobans collectively exhale, the Jets will get a much-needed rest before their Round 1 playoff match-up. The rollercoaster regular season has come to an end, so it is natural to reflect on what has transpired, and what is yet to come.

A playoff berth will lead some Jets faithful to suggest that the handwringers (guilty) have been hoisted on their own petard. Perhaps that’s true. I have been guilty of questioning the Jets’ leadership, core, and effort.

Those questions persist, but a Bayesian approach to fandom and analysis allows for opinions to change based on new evidence at hand. The Jets played admirably down the stretch and are commended for it. The shooting slump has been abated, and Coach Bones seems to have found forward lines that are playing consistently.

The Winnipeg Jets aren’t playing perfect hockey, but they are playing with a renewed vigor lost for the majority of the second half of the season. Being critical of the team you follow isn’t a sign of hate, but rather a by-product of caring. The Jets gave their fans a scare but ultimately prevailed. Onward and upward.

What is next for the Winnipeg Jets?

Onward means the Jets’ “Whiteout” is back. Having originated in 1987 in response to the Calgary Flames’ “C of Red”, the whiteout is now an event of lore. Winnipegers can and should be proud of their playoff tradition, as a more ruckus crowd is seldom found. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are watching Jets playoff games with my father. I now have that same opportunity with my daughter, which is unquestionably a moment to relish.

Playoff hockey requires grit and intensity not for the faint of heart. The Jets’ mettle was tested and confirmed. However, does this team have another gear? To win the Cup, a team needs scoring from all 4 lines, and the ability to control play. The Jets have done both sporadically this season, so consistency will be the key.

Jets White Out
Jets White Out /

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The Jets will be underdogs regardless of their first-round matchup. However, with the right goaltending, perhaps a healthy Perfetti, and some playoff magic, hope is abound. If what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger, then the Jets should be entering these playoffs with the strength to spare. As always – Go Jets Go.