Road jinx holds for Jets
Kirk Penton, QMI Agency
|With seven of their final 10 games on the road, the Jets won't be able to rely on their rabid fans to earn a playoff spot. (MARIANNE HELM/AFP-Getty Images)
As much as the Jets are no doubt looking forward to an upcoming three-game homestand, the troubling thought in the back of their minds will be the fact seven of their final 10 games are on the road.
The road is the place where the Jets have just 11 victories in 34 attempts. The road is where they have given up 11 power-play goals in their last nine games. The road is where they just cannot seem to start well at all.
The road is where they lost back-to-back games against Vancouver and Calgary last week and are now four points out of a playoff spot because of it.
Only three teams have greater differentials in home and road points this season, and in two of those cases (Detroit and St. Louis) it’s mainly because they are virtually unbeatable at home.
The team the Jets are chasing for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals, have 22 more points at home than on the road. Winnipeg has 20 more at MTS Centre.
Unless something changes, the Jets are simply going to build up fan hopes at home and then dash them when they head off to play their games elsewhere.
The season is five months old, and the Jets still don’t know what’s wrong when they leave Manitoba.
Defenceman Ron Hainsey said the good news, if you can call it that, is it’s usually something different every game that is causing the losing.
“If it was the same thing over and over again, you’d really start beating your head against the wall,” Hainsey said.
It could be argued Winnipeg’s rabid fan base has played a role in the team’s road struggles.
It’s almost as if the Jets have come to rely on the MTS Centre mania too much.
That’s not the fans’ fault, though, and pro athletes should have millions of reasons to be motivated for every game, no matter where it’s played.
“When you come out at home, you’ve got our fans screaming before the national anthem and everything and it’s easy to get into,” forward Tim Stapleton said. “These away games, we just have to create our own energy. Both games we were right there. We had the lead in Vancouver and we were down 3-2 (Friday), and it could’ve went either way but it didn’t.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel said the goal was for his team to win five of its last nine road games, which means now it must win five of its final seven.
“We’re way below .500 (on the road) and we’re still knocking on the door, so we’re fortunate from that standpoint,” Noel said.
“I don’t care if we play on the moon or we play at home or we play on the road. It doesn’t really matter. You’re down to 13 games. This is the playoffs.”
NHL teams with the greatest point differential between home and road games:
— St. Louis 27
— Detroit 25
— Washington 22
— Winnipeg 20
— Chicago 19* (vs. LA)