The Winnipeg Jets saw first-hand how tough it is going to be to reach the postseason when they were stymied by the St. Louis Blues on Saturday afternoon. With a win today (and a Phoenix Coyotes loss later tonight), the Jets had a chance to be just two points out of the final Wild Card spot. Instead, they picked up just a single point and will await the outcomes of the Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators.
Just last month, being this close to a playoff berth seemed unfathomable. However, Winnipeg got a shot in the arm from the coaching change and thanks to the Vancouver Canucks‘ free fall, they have set themselves up for an exciting return from the Olympic break.
That said, they will start that break losers of two-straight, and are now 8-4 under new head coach Paul Maurice. They won’t have much time to figure out if the success they’ve had under Maurice so far is a flash in the pan, or if they are still too much like the old Atlanta Thrashers, doomed to spend the summer on the golf course.
The Blues, on the other hand, continue their dominance over the teams in their division. They are nipping at the heels of the Chicago Blackhawks for first in the Central, and seem like a virtual lock to make the playoffs. Although the Blues let the Jets tie the game on three different occasions, the biggest problem they had was their inability to convert on the power play. They had eight opportunities throughout the game and couldn’t score on any of them.
The team power play is still top-five in the league at just under 22 percent, but they had the opportunity to take Winnipeg out of the game for good. Ultimately, it didn’t matter, and good teams will find a way to win even when they aren’t firing on all cylinders. Now, the players heading to Sochi can focus on the tournament, while the ones that are staying put can relax and focus on the final weeks leading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.