The Winnipeg Jets are .500 through 11 games with a record of 5-5-1 after an impressive 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Led by Al Montoya‘s shutout effort, the Jets won just their second game on the road this season. Despite early season struggles on the road and in net, in a weak Southeast division the Jets are only one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. That is why the upcoming homestand is so important for the Jets.
The Jets are always strong at home. Their new arena fills with hockey-starved fans every night and division rivals are forced to travel great distances to play in Winnipeg. However, because the Jets struggle on the road and face more travel than the rest of their division, they must win consistently on home ice to even begin to contend. Though it is early in the season, the Winnipeg Jets embark on a crucial three-game homestand on Tuesday.
The Winnipeg Jets face three of the best teams in the NHL in their next three games, all at home, with a chance to climb into the playoff hunt and potentially take the lead in the division.
On Tuesday, the Winnipeg Jets host the Philadelphia Flyers, an injury-riddled shell of their perennial-playoff selves. The Flyers are certainly beatable, plagued by mediocre goaltending, below-average defense and a scoring drought that stems from having only one legitimate scorer this year. If the Jets can kick off their homestand with a win, there’s a good chance the next three games will go well. Still, with goaltending problems, the Winnipeg Jets can certainly awaken the slumbering Flyers at any time.
The homestand gets more difficult when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins come to town two days apart to close the homestand. The Penguins recently had a five-game winning streak snapped by the New Jersey Devils, but their impressive offense is clicking and Ondrej Pavelec and Al Montoya will be hard pressed to slow them down. In the Bruins, the Jets face a team with some of the best depth in the league.
The Jets are an excellent home team capable of beating anyone in Winnipeg. They’ll have a chance to prove they can compete with legitimate playoff teams during this crucial homestand. If Winnipeg can string together a few upset victories, the Jets will be in the hunt for a division title. If they fall off, February could deal a very difficult blow to the Jets and their playoff hopes this season.