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Pray for a lucky seven

If only Winnipeg's favourite team could run the table...

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With seven games remaining, the math to the Stanley Cup playoffs is starting to look ever more stretched, ever more improbable for the Winnipeg Jets.

What could help?

Well, a seven-game winning streak would come in handy.

For the Jets, it would be their first of the season, so feel free to calculate the odds from there.

How do you come up with a seven-game winning streak? If you ask the Jets, who have surely been excellent with their common thinking throughout 2011-12, you could win a bet by predicting any one of them would say: "It starts by winning tonight's game."

It's one of three remaining home contests, and the Ottawa Senators are the visitors (7:30 p.m., TSN Jets, TSN 1290).

In terms of what's ahead, keep in mind the best Winnipeg has done, streak-wise, is four wins in a row. The Jets have had a stretch of five wins in six, but not six in seven.

Six wins could bring them to 90 points, a number some still think could qualify for the Eastern Conference top eight.

Here's the menu:

2It's the next chance to move forward, and a home mark of 23-11-4 is reason for some element of confidence. For the Jets, desperation should be automatic at this stage.

What could eat at one's resolve, especially for second-guessing fans, is if the Jets were somehow only two wins better than they are, this game would have far greater repercussions than the home team's apparent windmill-tilting. The Sens are seventh in the conference, eight points up on the Jets, and not yet home and cooled out.

 

2The Jets have fallen three straight times to the conference-leading Rangers so far this season; maybe there's a one-on-one score to settle here. Both Jets road losses to the Blueshirts have had the added handicap of the NHL schedule-maker, who sent them into Madison Square Garden having played the night before.

The Rangers will now be dealt that hand at the MTS Centre, having to come from a Tuesday-night game at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center. Will the Jets do their part to turn the tables?

 

2The Jets take their road record, a 12-21-4 albatross, back to the airport and try again. The Canes finish a three-game road trip Tuesday in Toronto and it's possible that whatever faint hope has been driving them will be extinguished by game time Friday. The Jets, on the other hand, will still have some sort of mathematical way in, no matter how their week has gone. The better it goes, the more meaning this game will have to them.

 

2The Jets take on their last back-to-back assignment of the season, and with a mark of 1-11 so far in the second game of these beasts, you know this topic is already on the off-season agenda for internal investigation.

If there's any kind of pressure in the playoff race by this point, however, you'd think the extraordinary circumstances could bring out something better in the Jets.

The Lightning, by Saturday, will have come back from three road games (Philly, Boston, New Jersey) in four nights and what faces them in the back end of their schedule is six of the final eight on the road, not exactly what you'd call favourable.

 

2The Jets have been more than competitive with the Southeast Division leaders this season, 2-2-1, and it's within the realm of possibility that by Game 80 for both teams, the Panthers will have the division crown and their playoff spot sewn up.

If the Jets have been able to make anything at all happen in assignments one through four on this list, this game is just the next biggest game of the year for Winnipeg.

With two days' rest in a good climate and a good rivalry with Florida so far, energy should be the least of issues here.

 

2By the time this game comes around, the Islanders will have authored a fifth-straight season out of the playoffs.

Enough said there.

And by the time this game rolls around, the Jets franchise could be staring at the same thing, though the context has some dramatic differences.

If history is all we're talking about by April 5, you can be sure the Jets' assignments one through five on this list have not gone well and the last week of the NHL regular season won't be a fun place.

 

2Is it possible the MTS Centre could host one dud game in 2011-12? This is your best bet if you're into statistical analysis.

The Jets' best hope might well be that this game holds any meaning at all beyond jostling for draft-order position.

They'll be home from their final four-game road trip, while the Lightning, in grave danger of having only a serious setback season to ponder, will be playing their third road game in four nights.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2012 C4

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