One dumb play and the Winnipeg Jets will now need a miracle to make the playoffs. And it’s not even Christmas yet.
Dumb. That’s the only way to describe what happened Saturday afternoon at MTS Centre as a nasty hit by Anthony Peluso resulted in two power-play goals for the Dallas Stars, a 5-3 Stars lead and a serious problem for the Jets.
Eventually Winnipeg lost 6-4 to Dallas and now the local side will need an absolute miracle to make the playoffs. Granted, they’ve been playing for some time without Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane, but the Jets have reached the point where those two might not be able to save the day.
“The five-minute major was costly,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel afterward. “It was a game that we chased, got back in the game three times and then let them score right away every time. The five-minute major put us in a tough situation.”
First the hit, then the problem. Peluso hit the Stars’ Alex Gologoski from behind and picked up a five-minute major and game misconduct. Goligoski, who was dripping blood, returned to the game in the third period, which might help Peluso to avoid a suspension or fine, but it’s unlikely. Even though he has no serious history of supplemental discipline at the NHL level, it was one of those hits the league is trying to remove from the game.
Of course, as things went on Saturday, the suspension or fine to Peluso is meaningless. The problem is that during Peluso’s five-minute major, the Stars got goals from Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and suddenly a 3-3 game was a 5-3 game and the Jets found themselves saying “unacceptable,” dozens of times in the post-game interviews.
“I’ve never seen that many breakdowns in one game,” said Jets forward Devin Setoguchi. “You can’t keep going down this path and expect things to get better on their own. Games like that can’t happen. That’s inexcusable.
“Everyone has to be on the same page and stick to the game plan. Throughout this game we didn’t do that at all and in the end it cost us a lot of goals. It’s unacceptable.”
The Jets were in the game until the Peluso major. What got into Peluso is anybody’s guess, but it cost the Jets another hockey game. The numbers are now staggeringly bad for Winnipeg.
The Jets are 14-15-5 on the season, dead last in the Central Division and 11th in the Western Conference. The Jets are now 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the West. The eighth-place Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche are all now five wins ahead of the Jets and all three lead Winnipeg in every tie-breaking category.
But here’s the number that really grates: After going 4-2-0 on an Eastern road swing, the Jets just went 0-2-1 on this important three-game homestand against Central Division competition. The Jets are now winless in six at home, 7-8-4 on the season. Seven wins in 19 home games has to be a tough pill for Jets fans who continue to be loud and proud while their team struggles mightily.
The Jets are now 3-11-3 against the Central Division. The Jets have only nine regulation or overtime wins in 34 attempts this season which is tied for last in the West with Edmonton.
To reach the playoffs, the Jets probably have to get to 95 points (at least). To do that. They must go 31-17-0 the rest of the way (that’s best case scenario). Sadly, the Jets only have 20 games against the Eastern patsies. It’s going to be tough to get enough wins against the West to get to 95 points.
So the question is: Does GM Kevin Cheveldayoff try to make some deals? He has to do something. His season is slipping away at an alarming rate.