After hitting March with a head of steam and the Southeast Division lead, the Winnipeg Jets‘ second year since moving from Atlanta seemed bound to give Winnipeg its first playoff berth with the current franchise. However, the Washington Capitals would drub Winnipeg in its meetings from that point on, eventually dragging the Jets down to second in the division and just outside the playoff picture at the ninth seed when all was said and done.
This 51-point campaign did still comprise an improvement on the previous year’s fourth-placed Southeast finish, and the lessons learned down the stretch will help the franchise moving forward.
“Disappointment. We have to make sure that we use this as motivation to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said left winger Andrew Ladd, via the team website. “It’s three years in a row now for me and it just leaves an empty feeling in your stomach and it’s failure to me. I’m sure there’ll be changes and we as a group need to figure out a way to be more consistent. Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot, we don’t give ourselves the best opportunity to win every night and that’s where it starts.”
Injuries to Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Kyle Wellwood and Nik Antropov certainly played their part in Winnipeg’s fall and this was unfortunate, but the Jets’ coach saw plenty of reasons for optimism when this squad was on the ice.
“I did see growth in our team, which is what encourages me, in a lot of ways,” said Jets Coach Claude Noel. “I think this was really good for us, a season of 48 games, it was way different and it was stressful. As a team we could use the experience of dealing with pressure. From that standpoint it was really good for us. I really enjoyed the year but I didn’t enjoy the non-practice too much because coaches like to practice but I think that we managed it pretty well without having any experience, I hadn’t experienced a lockout.”