Monday, May 21, 2018

Weekend wrap: One bad week spells the end for the Jets

Look, we did say “It’s one game”. We put that caveat right up front. Let’s be as clear as possible on that. But yeah, it’s fair to say that last week’s column hasn’t held up well. In case you missed it, that was the one where we reacted to game one of the Western Conference final by pointing out that the Jets had been better than the Golden Knights in just about every way. Between Winnipeg’s early dominance and the Capitals’ stealing the first two games in Tampa, we seemed like we could be headed to a pair of anticlimactic series. And in case that implication was too subtle, the piece was helpfully headlined “Jets, Capitals on collision course?”

Answer: No. No, they are not.

In the latest reminder of how much can change in one week, the Jets went from riding high last Monday to out of the playoffs altogether by the end of the weekend. Four straight Vegas wins spelled the end of what seemed to be shaping up as a dream season in Winnipeg, while continuing a Golden Knights’ run that everyone is struggling to explain.

Whether you’re loving this Golden Knights story or hating it – and there are plenty of fans in both camps – you have to give them full credit here. They didn’t steal this series, or back into the win, or luck their way to victory over a clearly better team. Instead, outside of that opener, the Knights went toe-to-toe with the best team left in the playoffs and finished them off with relative ease. The Jets struggled with the Vegas forecheck, coughing up several uncharacteristic defensive zone turnovers, enough of which ended up behind Connor Hellebuyck. And when Winnipeg did manage a goal of their own, the Knights were often right there to get it back within seconds. It was a frustrating stretch for a Jets team that hadn’t lost four straight all season long, and never quite found their best game after the opener.

As always when a team is eliminated, the question in Winnipeg turns to: Now what? The team was largely built by staying the course, even when impatient fans and media were calling for Kevin Cheveldayoff to do more. Do you stick with that plan now? Or do you acknowledge that it was the right strategy during the building phase, but that now is the time to take a more aggressive approach to finishing the job?

It’s a tough call, albeit one that roughly 27 other NHL teams would love to be facing right now. It’s easy enough to assume that the Jets will be back – the roster is certainly built for the long haul. But then again, plenty of other contenders have come close to a Cup and then drifted back to the pack, including more than a few Canadian teams.

The Jets will look to avoid that fate, and for Cheveldayoff, the offseason decisions start now. A lot can happen over the course of a summer. Maybe almost as much as can happen in a week.

Road to the Cup

The five teams that look like they’re headed towards a Stanley Cup.

5. Every other eliminated team except the one you root for (tie) – Man, tough break for your team, who drop out of the top five after making a brief appearance last week.

4. Winnipeg Jets – We’ll leave them here for one more week. Call it a 24-hour mourning period.

3. Washington Capitals – If Caps media was already writing leads like “Everybody you love dies” after two losses, imagine what the mood will be like if they reach four.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet


  1. Let's be honest, if Vegas had ANYONE else as goaltender besides Marc Andre, they wouldn't be where they are.

  2. Winnipeg gave it all they had and it still wasn't enough. Look how tired they were at the end of that game.