Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets' playoff chances murky

Team has too many questions to hazard more than a guess

  • Print
It's unlikely Jets fans will know until near the end of the regular season whether their team will make the playoffs for the first time since returning to Winnipeg.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

It's unlikely Jets fans will know until near the end of the regular season whether their team will make the playoffs for the first time since returning to Winnipeg. Photo Store

Backed into a corner and forced to give an answer, I would say the Winnipeg Jets won't make the playoffs this season.

But it would be a guess and nothing more.

The reality is there are too many unknowns where the Jets are concerned to put together and support a thesis that definitively answers one way or another what fate awaits this team.

Are the Jets a better team than they were last season? Have they improved to the point where they will qualify for the playoffs?

The answer lies out there, somewhere deep in the regular season and not likely to be revealed until around Game 80.

Any answer offered today is simply a prediction based on trends and hunches.

Lots of the experts have guessed on this subject and for the most part they say the Jets won't get in.

Before we get all sweaty about these opinions, keep in mind the basis upon which they are reached. No. 1 on the criteria list is history, and the Jets haven't played in the post-season since 2007, when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers. This version of the Jets, including their time in Atlanta, have never won a playoff game.

The core of this team, which has missed the playoffs the past two seasons since we started calling them our own here in Winnipeg, remains mostly unchanged but for the additions of a pair of rookies and two wingers deemed expendable by their previous teams.

Predicting what kind of an impact first-year players Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba, as well as veterans Michael Frolik, Devin Setoguchi and Matt Halischuk, can have on this team is difficult.

Do these newcomers represent an upgrade over the departed Alexander Burmistrov, Ron Hainsey, Kyle Wellwood, Nik Antropov and Anti Miettinen? That remains to be seen.

The bet GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is making is on his own players improving as individuals, hopefully translating into growth as a team and resulting in a playoff spot.

Can Ondrej Pavelec be better? Where will Evander Kane's game take the Jets this year? Will Dustin Byfuglien's renewed commitment to fitness pay measurable dividends? Can Scheifele and Trouba be difference makers? Can Andrew Ladd sustain his status as a 30-goal man? Can head coach Claude Noel push the buttons to get this team to play a winning formula on a consistent basis?

It goes on and on but the overriding consideration with the Jets is they have more questions than answers at this point, which makes them a dangerous prediction.

Certainly, the answers to all these questions could come down in a positive manner and make the Jets a playoff team. They could also turn in negative results, leaving the city of Winnipeg an outsider once more when the post-season begins.

Most likely, however, it's a mixed bag and the Jets will be fighting to hang around the line all season. Maybe they'll get good luck in the health department and it will propel them over the top. Or maybe they'll lose a couple of their indispensables and it will prove too much adversity to overcome.

Cheveldayoff's blueprint for the Jets doesn't call for the acquisition of outsiders to change the complexion of the team. So the growth spurt required has to come within and it's difficult to predict when those advancements will arrive and collectively conspire to turn the Jets from a pushover to a contender.

Another season on the outside won't break the franchise but it might break the hearts of some of its fans.

If they miss the playoffs it doesn't represent a failure in the outline and execution of Cheveldayoff's plan but it will turn up the heat on the organization. It might also prove a testy set of circumstances for Noel and his future.

The last two seasons the team has held a playoff position deep into the winter only to fade when the snow begins to melt. The hockey gets edgier and stiffer late in the season and the Jets haven't proven capable of handling that change. So far.

Is this the year? Great question. It's why they play the games and why we watch them.

See you at the rink.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 1, 2013 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

    No

  • 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 winnipegfreepress.com. 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 winnipegfreepress.com. 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.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Winnipeg Free Press 090528 STAND UP...(Weather) One to oversee the pecking order, a pack of pelican's fishes the eddies under the Red River control structure at Lockport Thursday morning......
  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google