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Breaking down Winnipeg’s Southeast chances after crushing Florida

Mar 1, 2012, 11:23 PM EDT

Winnipeg Jets v Florida Panthers Getty Images

If you’re a schedule analysis dork such as myself, the Winnipeg Jets’ rush back into the Southeast Division/Eastern Conference playoff picture is far from a shocker.

Even with that in mind, the Jets’ 7-0 thrashing of the Southeast-leading Florida Panthers was far from expected.

For the most part, this scrappy bunch is making the most out of an eight-game home stand that carried almost as many challenges as it did advantages,* but this win should be the centerpiece. Winnipeg carried a 2-0 lead into the third period. Rather than sitting on the lead, the Jets scored five more goals as they chased Jose Theodore and then beat Scott Clemmensen three times on just eight shots.

(In other words … it wasn’t all Theo’s fault.)

Southeast race is still most likely Florida vs. Washington

The Panthers shouldn’t freak too much because they still have a pretty cozy Southeast Division lead. Florida has two more points and three games in hand on the Jets, although Winnipeg has a slight edge in plain-old wins (31 to 30) and regulation/OT ones (27 to 26).

source: Getty ImagesWashington vs. Winnipeg

The Jets’ greater chances for a stunning playoff run obviously come in merely getting one of the bottom seeds – even if the Southeast is by no means out of the question. They bumped the Washington Capitals out of the top eight because the Jets have 70 points to Washington’s 69.

The Capitals still “control their destiny” (to use an NFL playoff term that bothers many, which makes it extra-delightful) however, as Washington has 19 games remaining vs. Winnipeg’s 16. The Capitals also have more standard wins (32 to 31) and significantly more regulation/OT ones (31 to 27), so the Caps hold tie-breaker advantages.

Jets’ future

Give the Jets plenty of credit for taking advantage of an opportunity to move back into serious contention, but their home stand is about to end with a Monday match against the enigmatic Buffalo Sabres. After that, they’ll play two road games, three home games and then three more contests away from Winnipeg.

Overall, the Jets have just seven games left in Winnipeg versus nine on the road (where they’re an unsettling 11-18-3).

***

Looking at the Southeast picture, the Jets and Capitals face remarkably similar situations since they’re up-and-down teams who are highly dependent on home ice. The Panthers have been a little more balanced (15-8-8 at home; 15-13-4 on the road) and that might ultimately determine the division champion.

Still, considering the fact that countless people wrote that Winnipeg fans would likely accept a horrible team just to get an NHL team back, it’s a heck of a story that they have a real shot to make the playoffs – and maybe take the Southeast.

* – The homestand began with a game against the Boston Bruins, included an OT loss against the formidable Philadelphia Flyers and a shootout loss against the St. Louis Blues. The only true letdown so far was a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

  1. scottfmullin - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    I wish the Jets would move out of the Panthers’ division so I can slightly root for them.

    • habsman - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:38 PM

      Re-alignment next year I believe, if the union agrees.

      • scottybcboy - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:47 PM

        The union was not the problem, it was the league refusing to communicate that led to the rejection of realignment – just sayin’.

  2. blomfeld - Mar 1, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    “I wish the Jets would move out of the Panthers’ division ?” …

    Well friend, I wish that NHL hockey would move out of Florida .. completely ! The NHL has no more business being there, than the NFL would have business setting up shop in Kazakhstan or Upper Volta ! The entire premise of hockey succeeding in a hot and humid place like Florida is positively ludicrous ! And “to hell” with these snow-birding parasites I say ! If these “wealthy” geezers can’t handle the cold during a Canadian winter, then why the hell are they even watching hockey ? No way Jose ! … I say relocate both Florida teams right now to one of the following excellent cities …

    1) Saskatoon
    2) Seattle
    3) Portland
    4) Hamilton
    5) Quebec City
    6) Green Bay
    7) Flint
    8) Thunder Bay
    9) Halifax

    • danphipps01 - Mar 2, 2012 at 2:59 AM

      Man, you use quotation marks in strange and alien ways. I don’t understand your confounding quote-sorcery. D:

      • rainyday56 - Mar 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        …. and you use too many !!!!!!!!’s. !

    • joshuakorr - Mar 2, 2012 at 6:00 AM

      I don’t think its the hot weather that matters. Its success of the team.
      Look at Los Angeles, and San Jose.
      I say this because I live in California. We have the largest men’s hockey league in the U.S. in the Bay Area.

      Also, look how the Avalanche have trouble selling tickets now that they are a mediocre team.

    • scottfmullin - Mar 2, 2012 at 7:45 AM

      Come on, friend, that move Florida teams to Canada argument died quite a few years ago. If you want a team to move to Canada, keep an eye on Phoenix or the Islanders (even though I don’t think the latter will move). Even I would like a few more Canadian teams, but the Panthers and Lightning aren’t relocating any time soon.

  3. pavelfitzgerald - Mar 2, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    I’d like to say thanks James for giving the Jets some love!

    I have to agree with most of your points tho – the Jets shouldn’t get too excited to with their playoff position with the amount of games in hand they have & that the Caps control thier own destiny. I will say though that this team is built on hard work, grit & character & this team has only grown as the year has worn on. Pavelec has proven he is more then able to steal wins & that this team can grind them out. Unfortunately they are awful on the road & too depened too much on home ice. I hope they can make the playoffs, but if not I look forward to the offseason with 7 UFA’s, assets in draft picks (extra 2/3 in 2013) & the amount of cap flexibility they already have with them being just over the cap floor.

    P.S. Jets fans saw a break out game coming like this but we are a) kind’ve delusionally & b) Jets fans

  4. stakex - Mar 2, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    I can understand Jets fans getting excited that they have a slight chance to make the playoffs. After all, this is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs much over the last few years, and to start the season I doubt many people gave them much hope.

    However, given the amount of games in hand Washington and Florida has… the Jets are in trouble. Should both teams win all three games the Jets would be 5 points out of a playoff spot and 6 points out of the division lead. Not impossible to overcome in 16 games, but certainly not easy either. Will that happen? Who the hell knows with how up and down Washington and Florida have been this season, but you have to assume it will to prevent suprises.

  5. bbiddy - Mar 2, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Being from Winnipeg and the Jet leaving being one of the saddest moments in my life whether they make the playoff or not it’s great to have a team to cheer for again.
    GO JETS GO!

  6. dougr42 - Mar 2, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    James, thank you for still considering the Flyers “formidable”, even if it was in a footnote.

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