Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

False parity keeps most teams in playoff hunt

  • Print

IF the guy attached to the name in the byline above was a foot taller, had a better haircut and could locate some dazzling small talk once in a blue moon, a long and steamy relationship with supermodel Kate Upton would certainly be in the cards.

It's this leap of logic that rides alongside the notion of the Winnipeg Jets earning some mythical playoff-worthy stamp of approval in Denver the other night. Following the Jets impressive -- and it was a solid effort, no question -- 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, most of the post-game glee centred around how the club had finally reached the NHL's spring hockey standard, believers never once pausing to glance at a calendar or a pocket schedule.

Reality check: There are still three-plus months left in the regular season.

Double reality check: Who wrote the Jets off as a playoff team before Tuesday and why are we counting them as one now because they owned a tiebreaker with Ottawa?

The truth is, the Jets were never in or out of the playoff race prior to winning in Denver, nor will they be in or out of one following tonight's game with the Los Angeles Kings (MTS Centre, 7:30 p.m.). Coming into Wednesday's action, the Jets (17-14-5) were in eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with 39 points, right near the middle of a group of seven clubs (from sixth to 12th place) separated by a mere five points.

In today's NHL, no team is really out of playoff consideration until the end. Given the way the league grades wins and losses (two points for a win, one point for a loss after 60 minutes) a false parity is formed, allowing for a longer stretch of fan interest as teams bunch up in the middle of each conference.

Outside of a prolonged double-digit win streak, separation between clubs becomes next to impossible and the dreaded "three-point game" (the scenario where rivals battle to essentially not lose in regulation) soon enters the vocabulary.

Remember the New Jersey Devils last season? They started with a 9-22-2 record and still managed to stay in the playoff hunt right up until Game 78. The longer teams are engaged, the league feels, the better it is for the product as a whole.

Are the Jets a playoff team? Eventually, say when March rolls around, the answer will present itself but until then it might be a little early to place such value on a modest conference standing.

Before coming to Manitoba, the Atlanta Thrashers sat in a top three Eastern Conference position thanks to a 19-11-5 start to the 2010-11 campaign. The Thrashers were the story of the early season back then, looking like a young playoff upstart before anyone noticed that the playoffs actually started in April.

If only the season ended in December. Atlanta won six of its next 27 games, battled for a spot the rest of the season before finishing near the bottom, and the team eventually moved to Winnipeg.

Obviously, this is an extreme example and a relocation won't happen should the Jets drop out of the precarious playoff position they find themselves in during this brief moment of the 82-game season, but when dissecting instant overreaction as it pertains to the local hockey fix, it's hard to know where one insanity starts and another begins.

If Twitter can go crazy with talk of Winnipeg in the playoffs or being a "playoff team" on Dec. 27, 2011, then we can't be quick to dismiss the idea that Jet fans should bone up on the top prospects in the 2012 NHL entry draft if their team stumbles and falls out of the top eight.

Playoff talk in December or Nail Yakupov Jets jerseys?

One overreaction deserves another. You can't have a heaven without a hell.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2011 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets players discuss outcome of Game 3 and hopes for Game 4

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Deer in Canola field near Elma, Manitoba. 060706.

View More Gallery Photos


Will Connor McDavid make the Edmonton Oilers a playoff team?

View Results

Ads by Google