Tuesday, March 6, 2012
The Jets Will Have To Win On The Road If They Want A Division Title
The Winnipeg Jets entered the season with high hopes and the fan support that was not apparent in their former home down south. That crowd support has breathed life into the Jets and rallied a team that now finds itself in the eight and final playoff spot, and only two points behind the division leading, Florida Panthers.
The Jets beat the Buffalo Sabres, who are making a push for the playoffs themselves, on Monday pushing them three points ahead of the ninth place, Washington Capitals. In a nationally televised game, it was apparent how intimidating Winnipeg's MTS Centre, where the Jets sport a record of 21-10-4, can be.
From the opening puck drop to the final buzzer the crowd of just over 15,000 roared and cheered there team on to a 3-1 victory. If the Jets want to hold on to their spot in the playoffs and have any hope on grabbing their division title they will need to continue their strong play through their remaining 15 games.
However, nine of their fifteen remaining games will force them out of the comfort of the MTS Centre and put their shaky road record, 11-17-4, to the test. Six of those nine games are against Eastern Conference opponents and are games where they can gain ground in the playoff race.
Adding more importance to those games, they will visit each Southeast Division team one time before the end of the regular season. All teams in the Southeast Division have strong records at home, Washington and Tampa Bay are both eleven games above .500 at home, while Carolina and Florida are both at least four games above the .500 mark.
More importantly, the Jets need to win those games in regulation and avoid as many three point games as possible. They can not afford to allow teams that are also in the race for the playoffs to steal a point at this time of the season.
If the Jets can pull out some key wins in their remaining road games, especially those against teams in their divisions, and continue their stellar play at home the Jets may be able to grab a division title in their first season back in the 'Peg.
If the Jets manage to grab the third seed they will guarantee themselves home ice advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs, and and MTS Centre during a game in the Stanley Cup playoffs is a scary thought and would likely want to be avoided by any team in the league.