The Winnipeg Jets entered Thursday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens knowing they needed a win and some help to keep hope of a playoff spot alive. While the Jets ultimately came up short on their end of things, it would prove to matter little as the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers each won their respective games to clinch playoff spots and eliminate the Jets in the process. A storyline of coming close but just not having enough to get all the way there continues for the Jets, who have made the playoffs just once in franchise history (as the Atlanta Thrashers) and have never won a playoff game. There are a lot of great pieces on this team, but questions will abound in the offseason as the Jets continue to search for something that will push them over the hump.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec struggled in allowing four goals on 30 shots, and when the offseason questions start coming, he will be one of the first topics to arise. He leads the league in minutes played, but is 38th in the league in goals-against average and 33rd in save percentage. The Jets ranked 22nd in the league in goals-against while ranking 23rd on the penalty kill, so it’s fair to say Pavelec doesn’t always get a ton of help. Injuries to Zach Redmond and Zach Bogosian were big blows for the team, but Pavelec has yet to show that he can consistently play like a playoff-caliber goaltender.
Andrew Ladd turned in an impressive 18-goal, 46-point season to lead the Jets offense, and he isn’t going anywhere. Evander Kane continues to develop into a star, scoring 17 goals and collecting 33 points this season. With 10 pending free agents this summer, the offense could look very different for the Jets next season. There is a lot of young talent heading to this team in the next few seasons, and perhaps with a few small changes the Jets can find a way to reach the playoffs.