As Jets fall further back in playoff race, decisions loom for Cheveldayoff

Getty
4 Comments

The Winnipeg Jets probably deserved better last night in Edmonton, where they outshot the Oilers, 45-21, only for Cam Talbot to steal another one for his team.

The Jets could only manage one goal against Talbot. They lost 3-1, their record falling to a disappointing 15-16-2.

“For sure, we outplayed them and thought we deserved the two points,” defenseman Tyler Myers told the Winnipeg Sun. “Their goalie played well and we’ve got to bear down on finishing our chances. We had a lot of chances and they just weren’t going in for us. All in all, we did a lot of good things.”

But despite all those good things they did, the reality is that the Jets will find themselves well back of a playoff spot heading into the Christmas break. Fellow Central Division team Nashville holds down the second wild-card spot in the West, eights point up on Winnipeg. The Jets aren’t even ahead of Colorado anymore.

Jets

As you can see, Winnipeg is the only team in its division with a negative goal differential. Goaltending has been a weakness. The Jets’ team save percentage is .900, 26th in the NHL. Neither Connor Hellebuyck nor Michael Hutchinson have played particularly well since Ondrej Pavelec was lost to injury.

Meanwhile, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien remain pending unrestricted free agents in line for big pay days. The longer they go without signing extensions, and the further the Jets fall back in the playoff race, the more we can expect the trade speculation to increase as the Feb. 29 deadline approaches.

In some ways, where the Jets are in the standings could make things easier for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Imagine how hard it would be to trade a player like Byfuglien in the thick of a playoff race.

Not that Cheveldayoff was hoping for this. He has to be feeling the heat in the passionate market. Ditto for ownership, which has been accused of “pinching pennies” by some in the media. Winnipeg has the lowest cap payroll in the league.

The Jets play tonight in Calgary, then get four days off before hosting Pittsburgh and Detroit. After that, it’s a tough five-game road trip that includes a stop in Nashville.

Bottom line: they need to start stringing some wins together, because a return to the playoffs — and all the fun that comes with the postseason in Winnipeg — is looking increasingly unlikely.