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This article was published 23/2/2015 (2436 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Another sub-standard week for the Winnipeg Jets has, for the immediate future, ensured their participation in a tight race to the finish for Stanley Cup playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Looking very solid prior to the all-star break, the Jets were in solid control of the first wild-card berth and were not far off one of the guaranteed three playoff spots available in the difficult Central Division.
A six-game losing streak out of the break, however, and the most recent week that included a white-knuckle shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers, a game that was among their worst all season in Washington and a squandered opportunity in Toronto that ended with an overtime defeat, have left the Jets at 71 points in 61 games.
That's still good enough to hold the first wild-card spot today, but there is now a race that involves seven teams, maybe eight, for five available spots.
A popular pastime is to predict the number of points required to make the post-season in the West. Some say 94, others think 95. Last season 91 points was good enough.
Keep in mind the race as it currently sits has several Pacific teams fighting it out for second and third in that division, so it's actually the third-best and fourth-best of those Pacific teams that are of most concern to Winnipeg.
The Jets have a spot within reach, and they have their fate in their own hands.
This part is simple -- if they play well in the 21 games remaining and earn results, they'll be in.
To present a clear picture of the road to the playoffs, here's an advance look at the five blocks of games that will be encountered.
Feb. 24 Dallas
Feb. 26 St. Louis
March 1 Los Angeles
March 4 Ottawa
The rest of the Jets' schedule leans towards favourable -- essentially because 12 home games and only nine road games remain, plus they have only two back-to-backs and six different instances of multiple days between games -- and begins Tuesday night, the start of a four-game homestand. The first two are against Central rivals and the L.A. Kings are the third visitor. The assignment is clear; be good at home and take care of your own business within the division and conference. It winds up with Ottawa, the only instance left on the schedule where the opponent will have played the night before (the Sens are in Minnesota).
March 7 at Nashville
March 10 at St. Louis
March 12 at Florida
March 14 at Tampa Bay
Again, the segment starts with division rivals. Both have been difficult, but the Jets have not been outclassed by either this season and in particular against Nashville, have played two tight games so far at Bridgestone Arena. This is the second of the four games remaining against the Blues, who will be home for the first time after a long trip. The back half of this Jets' trip includes the usual distractions of travel to warm-weather cities, but if that's a problem at this time of year with the race this close, a host of other doubts come into play. At the conclusion of this block, Winnipeg will have eight home and five road games left.
March 17 San Jose
March 19 St. Louis
March 21 Washington
March 23 at Edmonton
March 24 at Vancouver
These eight days will go by quickly, with four of five conference games. It's book-ended with games against rivals who are tight with them today. When the Sharks visit, it's the start of a seven-game road trip for San Jose. The game at Vancouver is the second time in six weeks that the Jets are asked to play the Canucks having played elsewhere the night before.
March 26 Montreal
March 29 Chicago
March 31 New York Rangers
April 4 Vancouver
Another four-game homestand includes the Jets' final two games against the Eastern Conference this season. The game against the Blackhawks still has potential implications, since today Chicago has not yet put much distance between itself and chasers. Vancouver's stop here, though not a back-to-back for the Canucks, is the final stop on a four-game week through the Central Division.
April 6 at Minnesota
April 7 at St. Louis
April 9 at Colorado
April 11 Calgary
Three large Central games in this week and one final home date that could loom even larger. When the Flames come calling, plenty could be on the line. It's worth noting the Flames close with six of eight on the road and they have also have a seven-game trip that starts this week.
What's left for the Jets:
Not the toughest test
Commonly heard among those fretting about the Jets' final 21 games of 2014-15: "It's a really tough road ahead." You can debate this theory in many ways, but it's based on a flawed premise and/or an oversight. That is, all teams in contention for Western Conference playoff spots have demanding schedules ahead, each facing division and conference rivals. Winnipeg's would appear to be neither the toughest nor easiest.
Here's what's left for those in the hunt:
TeamDivision gamesConference games
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