In just their second season since relocating from Atlanta, the Winnipeg Jets may very well be playoff-bound.
A playoff season certainly wasn’t expected from the Jets, but they’ve earned it to this point. Whether or not the fact this is a legitimate playoff team won’t matter once they make it into the playoffs, since it’s anybody’s game at that point. But those questions over whether or not the Jets are to be taken seriously are going to continue to roll out until then.
Those questions stem from the fact that the Jets play in the Southeast Division, which could easily be the league’s worst. If it weren’t for the fact that they were leading their division, leaving them in third in the Eastern Conference, this is a club that would be in sixth, just a found points out of falling out of the top eight.
Which is why they should consider themselves lucky for playing in this division. Of the other four teams, only one looks to be a real threat to the Jets at this point: the Carolina Hurricanes. The other three clubs are having too many issues, whether it’s staying healthy or putting together any sort of consistency, to make a postseason run.
Not that the Jets are a bad team. They’re a club that has potential to make some noise in the playoffs. Andrew Ladd is having an absolutely fantastic season. As is Blake Wheeler. Dustin Byfuglien continues to be an asset on the blue line. Ondrej Pavelec hasn’t exactly been lights-out, but he’s been solid.
The purpose of this isn’t to dismiss the fact that the Jets are a decent team, because they have plenty of talent on their roster, even if they’re not a Stanley Cup contender. But the simple fact is that if it weren’t for the fact that they play in the Southeast, this team’s postseason outlook may be quite a bit different.