Life on the road has not been kind to Jets
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/04/2022 (220 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Jets have saved one of the best for last. And as they limp into Raleigh, N.C., to close out the road portion of their 2021-22 schedule against a legitimate Stanley Cup contender Thursday night, they’ll be looking to salvage something from what has been a miserable season of hockey away from home, sweet home.
With only 16 victories in 40 games, you have to go all the way back to the inaugural Jets 2.0 campaign of 2011-12 to find a worse winning percentage in enemy territory (14 in 41 games that year). And that, among with a long list of other reasons, is why Winnipeg will be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start in early May.
The Jets started with a whimper, not a bang, in losing back-to-back outings in Anaheim and San Jose last October, then blowing a late lead and falling in overtime to Minnesota before the puck dropped for the first time at Canada Life Centre. And they are finishing in similarly frustrating fashion, posting three consecutive defeats in regulation on a four-game trip that ends at PNC Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes (the Metropolitan Division leaders at 49-20-8).
They’ve been outscored 16-5 by Florida, Tampa and the New York Rangers during this current slump, and have now given up 26 more goals than they’ve scored this season while playing in foreign barns. By comparison, the Jets have won 19 of 37 starts in downtown Winnipeg, with a plus-13 goal differential.
Interim head coach Dave Lowry’s crew will get a chance to improve on those numbers when its plays the final four games of the season in its own backyard. Colorado, the No. 1 team in the NHL, stops by on Sunday, with visits from Philadelphia, Calgary and Seattle to follow. And while the outcomes won’t mean much in the standings (save for potential first-round draft positioning), the Jets will want to at least give fans some reason for optimism heading into a longer-than-expected offseason.
“We still have five more games left and we’re going to try and get as many wins as we can,” said backup goalie Eric Comrie, who stopped 31 shots in a losing effort against the Rangers.
Lowry liked his club’s compete level in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss on Broadway, believing it’s a sign his group remains motivated despite the current circumstances which included back-to-back blowouts last weekend.
“You look at the way that we played, I don’t have to convince these guys. These guys understand how we need to play to be successful,” said Lowry, who has led Winnipeg to a 22-21-6 record after Paul Maurice resigned in mid-December following a 13-10-5 start.
Some players don’t seem to share the same optimism, with Pierre-Luc Dubois just the latest to sound off in post-game comments about the level of frustration that has taken over. Kyle Connor, Paul Stastny and Nikolaj Ehlers have also joined the chorus over the past few days.
Winnipeg had an optional practice Wednesday in Raleigh but did not hold a media availability.
The Jets were without No. 1 netminder Connor Hellebuyck (illness) and top centre Mark Scheifele (injury) in the latest outing. Scheifele will remain out of the lineup against the Hurricanes, as he’s currently back in Winnipeg dealing with a shoulder issue sustained 11 days ago against Ottawa.
Whether he might see action during the final homestand remains to be seen.
“For me, it’s too early to give you a final answer on that,” Lowry said Tuesday night. “I know that he was going to not be available on this trip. When we get home, we’ll see where he’s at and what kind of progress he’s made.”
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.