banner20

The schedules: Jets battle five other teams for four playoff spots

Devan Dubnyk was flawless on Friday night. Heck, if a team could play a perfect game, the Minnesota Wild were pretty damn close on Friday.

Dubnyk had to make only 15 saves to lead the Wild to a 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers. It was Dubnyk’s sixth shutout this season and the fifth since he was acquired by the Wild on Jan. 14. He’s made 16 straight starts and, as a result, the Wild are back in the playoff hunt.

FMG-TacticalChallenge-650x90 taylorad

Left for dead in early January, the Wild are now 12-2-1 since Dubnyk joined the team. By going 8-1-1 in their last 10, the Wild now have 67 points in 58 games and are just one point out of seventh in the West and only three points out of fifth. Of the four teams they are chasing Winnipeg (70), Vancouver (69), Calgary (68) and San Jose (68), they have games in hand on every team except the Flames. Oh yeah, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings have now won six in a row and are just four points behind Winnipeg.

After a dreadful 5-1 loss in Washington, the Jets are hoping to bounce back on Hockey Night in Canada against the Leafs.

After a dreadful 5-1 loss in Washington, the Jets are hoping to bounce back on Hockey Night in Canada against the Leafs.

Uh, oh. The Jets rearview mirror has filled up. Now it’s time to get serious and take a run to the post-season.

After getting hammered 5-1 by the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, the Jets find themselves with a record of 30-20-10 after 60 games. With 70 points, they remain alone in fifth place in the West, one point ahead of sixth-place Vancouver, two up on seventh-place Calgary and San Jose, three ahead of ninth-place Minnesota and four ahead of 10th-place Los Angeles. Tonight’s game in Toronto is now huge for the Jets.

The Jets are now 4-6-2 since the all-star break and are now 15-10-6 on the road. Since the break, the Jets are 1-5-1 on the road heading into Toronto on Saturday night.

However, the Jets have played well against Toronto (23-30-5) this season. In fact, when the Jets beat the Leafs 5-1 in Winnipeg back on Jan. 3, it resulted in the firing of Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.

Winnipeg will complete this brief two-game road trip on Saturday at Air Canada Centre at 6 p.m. It’s the Jets and Maple Leafs on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

Then the Jets will return home for four straight games at MTS Centre against Dallas (Tuesday), St. Louis (Thursday), Los Angeles (Sunday) and Ottawa (Wednesday, March 4). It just might be the most important home stand of the season.

Which brings us to a little gaze into our crystal ball. The Jets have 22 games remaining. They are, legitimately, in a battle with five other teams in the race for the last four playoff spots in the West.

Here’s a look at what’s left for six teams in a battle for four playoff spots (Note: I’ve included regulation/overtime wins – ROW – in the chart because that’s the first tiebreaker after 82 games).

5. Winnipeg (70 points, fifth in West, fourth in Central)

With 22 games remaining and a handful of other teams in the hunt, making the playoffs for the first time since returning to Winnipeg is far from a lock.

With 22 games remaining and a handful of other teams in the hunt, making the playoffs for the first time since returning to Winnipeg is far from a lock.

Games left: 22

Home: 12

Away: 10

Games vs. current playoff teams: 15

Back-to-backs: 2

Regulation/overtime wins: 24

Note: With a game Saturday night against Toronto, some feel the Jets have an easy schedule, but they play St. Louis four times and the Wild once. They also have only 22 games remaining and they were hideously bad in a 5-1 loss to Washington on Thursday.

6. Vancouver (69 points, sixth in West, second in Pacific)

The Canucks

With the easiest schedule among the six teams battling for the final four playoff spots, the Canucks should be a lock to make the postseason.

Games left: 24

Home: 13

Away: 11

Games vs. current playoff teams: 10

Back-to-backs: 2

Regulation/overtime wins: 30

Note: Now this is a team with an easy schedule. If they just do what they’ve been doing down the stretch, they should be a lock. Their final two games are against Arizona and Edmonton at home.

7. Calgary (68 points, seventh in West, third in Pacific)

The Flames have been the most surprising team in the West this season, but are they for real?

The Flames have been the most surprising team in the West this season, but are they for real?

Games left: 23

Home: 9

Away: 14

Games vs. current playoff teams: 10

Back-to-backs: 4

Regulation/overtime wins: 29

Note: This is a pretty tough schedule, although the Flames do have a five-game home stand in the middle of March. In that stretch, they play four games against non-playoff teams. However, in a 6-3 loss to Anaheim on Friday night, they were exposed as a dreadful hockey team and they now start a seven-game Eastern road swing that will separate a contender from a pretender.

8. San Jose (68 points, eighth in West, fourth in Pacific)

While the Sharks are currently

While the Sharks currently hold the eighth spot in the West, they are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03.

Games left: 22

Home: 11

Away: 11

Games vs. current playoff teams: 11

Back-to-backs: 3

Regulation/overtime wins: 28

Note: Weird schedule to finish. Tonight the Sharks start a four-game home stand, then they play one on the road before returning home for four more. They finish with 10 of 13 on the road, but five of their final six are against Colorado, Arizona, Dallas and Edmonton.

9. Wild (67 points, ninth in West)

With journeyman Devan Dubnyk between the pipes, the Wild seem unstoppable. They have gone

With Devan Dubnyk between the pipes, the Wild seem unbeatable. They have gone 12-2-1 since acquiring the journeyman goaltender in January.

Games left: 24

Home: 13

Away: 11

Games vs. current playoff teams: 15

Back-to-backs: 5

Regulation/overtime wins: 28

Note: The second toughest schedule of the bunch. The Wild play their final six games and eight of their last nine against current playoff-bound teams, including a tough road trip through Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis. That could tell the tale.

10. Los Angeles (66 points, 10th in West)

The Kings are currently on the outside looking in, but the defending Stanley Cup champs are heating up at the right time.

The Kings are currently on the outside looking in, but the defending Stanley Cup champs are heating up at the right time.

Games left: 25

Home: 10

Away: 15

Games vs. current playoff teams: 16

Back-to-backs: 3

Regulation/overtime wins: 26

Note: White-hot like the Wild, the Kings have won six straight and have the most games remaining of any of the teams in the hunt. They do have the most difficult schedule remaining with the most road games, but they are the defending Stanley Cup champs so the road shouldn’t matter. After all, during their six-game winning streak, they won three on the road — in Tampa, Columbus and Colorado.

— SCOTT TAYLOR, MyToba.ca 
— Photo by TARA MILLER, MyToba.ca

CarCzars-Banner1-650x60  taylorad

Editor of the popular Game On Hockey Magazine and The Point After Football Magazine, editor of Canadian Meat Business Magazine, sports editor of Grassroots News, TV play-by-play voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and author of the bestselling book: The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg. He likes virgin pina coladas, long walks on the beach, puppies and thoroughbred race horses that run according to form.
Related Posts