February 22, 2012
Jets get middling gradesImprovement needed to achieve playoff spot
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - The time has come for the Winnipeg Jets to turn this marathon into a sprint to the finish line.
A 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night left the third quarter of the NHL season in the rear-view mirror and the Jets have 20 games remaining on the docket to continue the push for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
For much of the third quarter, the Jets endured some serious scoring woes before breaking out in a big way during the past four games.
After being held to two goals or fewer in 12 of 16 games, the Jets exploded for 17 goals (one came from the shootout) as they went 3-0-1 over the past four outings.
With a record of 29-26-7, we believe the Jets deserve a grade of C to this point of the season and their 9-9-2 record in the third quarter receives a C as well.
Eleven of the final 20 games will be played at MTS Centre, where the Jets have put together a record of 18-9-3.
With 90 to 92 points expected to be required to advance to the post-season party, the final seven weeks and change should be interesting as the Jets attempt to reach their goal of making the playoffs.
The Jets are back in action Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning as they continue an eight-game homestand, but before they do, here’s a look at the positional grades for the Jets during the third quarter:
The offensive drought put a lot of pressure on the Jets’ goalies, but Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason provided above average goaltending on most nights and exceptional netminding on several others. The Jets gave up 51 goals (2.55 per game), but 18 of them came in three games (a 5-1 loss to New Jersey Devils, an 8-5 loss to Pittsburgh Penguins and the 5-4 OT loss to the Flyers on Tuesday). In an effort to keep him fresh, Pavelec made 15 starts while Mason made five during the quarter. Goaltending has been the strength of this club all season long.
Playing without Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian for nine games each certainly left some big minutes to fill, but for the most part the depth on the blue-line has held up pretty well. The Jets used only eight defencemen during the third quarter (compared with 12 in the first) and were mostly steady.
It was definitely a Jekyll and Hyde quarter for the forwards, who endured mostly famine before a recent offensive feast. The top line of Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and captain Andrew Ladd finally found the chemistry that made them so successful late last season with the Atlanta Thrashers to lead the charge. The trio combined to produce nine goals and 22 points over the past six games, while Evander Kane has five goals and eight points in eight games since missing seven games with a concussion.
— Games played: 20 (Games 43 to 62)
— Record: 9-9-2 (29-26-7 overall)
— Home 4-3-2 (18-9-3 overall)
— Away: 5-6 (11-17-4 overall)
— Goals for: 45 (157 total)
— Goals against: 51 (175 total)
— 20 games (11 at home, nine on road)
— 14 vs. Eastern Conference
— 9 vs. Southeast Division
— 6 vs. Western Conference