44 points in 33 games: Probably the least the Jets will need to make the playoffs

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Paul Maurice is an original thinker, quick to provide an intelligent take on anything hockey related and loathe to simply spit out the mundane.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/02/2016 (2427 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Paul Maurice is an original thinker, quick to provide an intelligent take on anything hockey related and loathe to simply spit out the mundane.

But as the Winnipeg Jets coach gazes at what is ahead for his hockey squad and its quest to return to the Stanley Cup derby, well…

“There’s just too many clichés and you fire them all out because they’re all appropriate for the situation we’re in,” said Maurice as the Jets returned to work Monday at MTS Iceplex. “There’s no sense worrying about the second game because you’ve got to win that first one and that’s it.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Chris Thorburn at Winnipeg Jets practice Monday.

“It’s the same with a loss. A loss isn’t two in a row, it’s one in a row and you move on to the next.”

The Jets don’t face just an uphill climb to become relevant in the Western Conference playoff discussion, but a mammoth quest that makes Mt. Everest look like a bunny hill. They are 12th in the West, closer to last overall — four points ahead of Edmonton and Columbus — than the nine points that separate them from Nashville, which holds down the second wild-card spot.

They would need to go on a run of 20-9-4, as an example, to get them to 91 points — and even that might not be enough to make the playoff line. Remember, this is a squad that hasn’t won more than two in a row since April.

All that said, the Jets are as healthy as they’ve been since early in the season. Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry were back on the ice Monday after missing last week’s game against Arizona, while Ondrej Pavelec is closer to returning from the injured-reserve list with each passing day.

“We’re confident in that lineup that we can do it,” said Perreault. “We had a good practice today and now we’ve got to get ready for that push. Home or road for us, it doesn’t really matter anymore. We’ve got to get wins. We’re not going to have that mentality where home is going to get easier.

“Every game is so important now. We’ve got 33 games left and we pretty much have to go 26-7 or 25-8. We’ve gotta win games so we’re going to have that mentality and go at them one by one, starting (today).”

As long as the odds are, the Jets do have some recent history to lean on, including some of their own. The Ottawa Senators went on a 25-8-4 run after the all-star break last season to qualify for the playoffs; the Minnesota Wild were 26-8-3 in their final 37 to do the same.

And the Jets, you may recall, were also given up for dead at various points a year ago, but went 17-9-5, including 4-0-1 in April, to give fans in these parts their first taste of NHL playoff hockey in eons.

And the No. 1 lesson learned from a year ago is simple:

“It’s the rebound factor,” said Maurice. “We had so many games that were tough defeats… it’s the ability to rebound.

“This last stretch for everybody, there’s going to be some tough losses for all the teams. Handling that and coming back and playing the next night is important.”

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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