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Jets Send The Folks Home Happy But Changes Must Be Coming

The Winnipeg Jets might have played their best hockey game of the season on Thursday night. Too bad they waited 81 games to look as good as they did.

Granted, the Boston Bruins had nothing to play for and yet they led the Jets final home game of the 2013-14 campaign right up until the 18:07 mark of the third period when Evander Kane beat Chad Johnson for the Jets final goal of the MTS Centre season.

Michael Hutchinson was the star (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Michael Hutchinson was the star (Photo by Jeff Miller)

In the end, Bryan Little scored a shootout goal and the Jets beat the Bruins 2-1. It leaves the Jets with a record of 36-35-10, 11th in the Western Conference.

Kane’s tying goal was his 18th of the season, which is somewhat shocking considering the size of his contract. At $4.5 million this season and $6 million next season, one suspects that $250,000 per goal was not what Mark Chipman had in mind when he had his GM Kevin Cheveldayoff sign that six-year deal. It’s not Kane’s fault. He is what he is. But somebody thought he was a lot better than he is.

Of course, you could say that about a lot of these Jets. Ondrej Pavelec? The left side of the Jets defense? Olli Jokinen? Devin Setoguchi? Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom, all should have been better.

It was suggested earlier today that only six Jets were worth the cost of their contracts this season: Little, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba.

With the off-season looming, it’s obvious something has to happen. If I was a betting man, I’d wager that Cheveldayoff will shop Kane and Pavelec and see what he can get. It doesn’t mean he’ll ultimately deal them, but at least it’s something with which to negotiate.

Bryan Little scores the winner in the shootout as the Jets down the Bruins 2-1. (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

Bryan Little scores the winner in the shootout as the Jets down the Bruins 2-1. (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

Regadless, something has to happen if this team is ever going to make the playoffs. It’s almost sad when you watch Columbus, Dallas and Phoenix and realize that two of those teams will make it to the playoffs and not one of them is better than the Jets, that you realize there is something wrong with this team. It loses 1-0 to Minnesota in a lousy hockey game and then comes back, plays hard for three periods and beats Boston 2-1 in a shootout.

“I was impressed with the third period,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “I was impressed with how they played through it and got themselves a win.”

Once again Michael Hutchinson had a solid game in goal. He made 31 saves and won his first NHL game. Maurice said he might let Hutchinson finish the season on Friday night in Calgary.

The Jets have played 46 one-goal games this season. They’re 21-15-10. They should play more of them. This is a team that is so close and yet so far, far away.

In Jets land, this off-season will be a lot more interesting than this past regular season.

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