The Last Day

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Some Playoff Nostalgia

Tranquility hung in the air this morning. It was still at Portage and Main, leaving the Jets flags limp and lifeless; a metaphorical half-mast for a loss that was hard to swallow the previous night.

Jets fans flocked out to southern California to get a sneak peak at something many have never experienced before: playoff hockey.

The last time a Winnipeg team was in the NHL playoffs was 19 years ago. That team, affectionately known as Jets 1.0, faced the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. They only managed to win two games that year and would be the last games ever played in the Winnipeg Arena.

Some of the older people in the crowd at MTS Centre on Monday might remember names like Dave Manson, who racked up 30 penalty minutes, two goals and one assist in the six game series. Or Keith Tkatchuk who also managed a three point series. Other names to reminisce over are Alex Zhamnov, Igor Korolev, Shane Doan (who still plays) and Teppo Numminen.

While watching the games to come, keep in mind that this Jets 2.0 team is far stronger, faster and more skilled than the team 19 years ago.

A victory in six or seven over the Ducks is totally possible, but players like Ladd, Little, Byfuglien and Scheifele will need to step up their game and play like their lives depend on it.

First Intermission Repot

The Jets have the opportunity to not only stall what could be inevitable, the Minnesota Wild making the playoffs this year, but also to give themselves a better chance to make it in themselves. And with a 1-0 lead after one, they’re in a good spot to do it.

The Jets have been good at creating offensive opportunity by skating well, moving the puck well and only going down a man once. They took the lead on a power play shot by Blake Wheeler that deflected off Scandella’s foot and went passed Devan Dubnyk.

So far, the Jets are losing the faceoff battle, the hits and the giveaway takeaway ratio. But they’ve blocked a couple more shots than the Wild.

It seems, though, that to win this game, the Jets will need to tighten up their defensive play. They’ll definitely need to stay out of the box, as the Wild power play looked pretty hot at the end of the first.

Every team wants to see the “x” next to their name on the standings list at this time of year. The Jets might not get that honour, and if they do make it, I get the feeling it will come down to the last game of the season against the Flames. But they can take solace in denying, if only for one game, the Wild from clinching a playoff spot.

Jets drop two in a row at home

The Jets drop a must win game against the New York Rangers at MTS Centre tonight despite outplaying them offensively for most of the night.

Chris Kreider delivered the deathblow with just over three minutes left in the third, giving the Rangers their first and only lead of the game. Kreider was able to get past Dustin Byfuglien, and then deke Ondrej Pavelec to put the puck between his skate and the left post.

New York (48-21-7) now moves into first place in the east with 103 points, one point over the Montreal Canadiens, while the Jets (39-26-12) remain in possession of the final wild card spot, still with 90 point and the Los Angeles Kings not far behind.

In a game that could have been a triumphant return from injury for Brian Little, if the Jets had won, is now a devastating loss that could bring their playoff chances into question. The Kings currently sit two points below the Jets in the race for the final wild card position. They’ll play the Oilers on Thursday—a team in a back-to-back situation facing the Ducks on Wednesday.

The Jets out shot the Rangers 34 – 24, and led in the faceoff circle 35 – 26. But more important are the 24 blocked shots by the Rangers and the two failed power plays by the Jets.

At 13:32 of the second period, Rick Nash took a penalty for hooking Jacob Trouba and the Jets failed to produce a shot on the power play, despite having a couple good chances.

“What I said will stay there,” said Paul Maurice in the post-game press conference. “The emotions are all high right now, so we just talked about how we’re going to proceed.”

Jim Slater scored his fourth of the season just over three minutes into the game, but Mats Zuccarello tied it up at 9:42 of the first. Lee Stempniak scored his twelfth of the season, third as a Jet, to take the 2 – 1 lead at 1:24 of the second period. Derick Brassard tied it up midway through the period on a power play slap shot from the point with Rich Nash providing the screen in front of Pavelec.

Brian Little, in his first game back after missing 11 with an injury, logged three shots and 19:41 of ice-time. In Perreault’s second game back from injury, he got an assist and 13:48 of ice-time. The Jets ice-time leader was Tyler Myers with 24:23.