1. GOALS AGAINST
The team had 144 against in 48 games last season, three for every game they played. No team with a number that high made the playoffs. To illustrate the hill this is to climb, there were eight NHL teams that did better in this category last season but didn't make the playoffs. The Jets were -16 in goals scored vs. goals allowed. Minnesota was the only team in the negative column to make the post-season.
2. POWER PLAY
It's not always the thing that decides the Stanley Cup, but it sure decides a lot of regular-season games. Winnipeg, at No. 30 in this category in the lockout season at 13.8 per cent, didn't have even a goal to show for every other game. The Jets must get a substantial uptick here -- not just a spot or two -- or the task becomes Herculean.
3. GET BUSY NOW
It's well documented that teams not in a playoff spot after a month, or by U.S. Thanksgiving, have about a 10 to 12 per cent chance of climbing into the post-season. Winnipeg is at least set up for a good start, with eight of the next nine games at home after tonight's opener in Edmonton.
4. CONTRIBUTING KIDS
C Mark Scheifele plays his third season-opener tonight, but is for the first time believed to be a full-time player. D Jacob Trouba, it appears, will not be fed just a few minutes a game to find his feet. Serious contributions from this pair upgrades the team and enhances chances for the post-season.
5. MAKE CHANGES UPGRADES
For a draft-and-develop outfit, youth must be a constant. The Jets are on this path now (see No. 4). But they have made other moves and the introduction of wingers Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik in particular, and you may include Matt Halischuk, must account for more than the likes of departed Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood and/or Alex Burmistrov, to name three. If they don't, prayer might be all that's left.
-- Tim Campbell