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Jets Win Final Game, Now Comes Decision Time

Friday night, the Winnipeg Jets finished the 2013-14 National Hockey League season with a 5-3 win over the Flames in Calgary. Now the Jets brass has to decide how the team will move forward.

On Friday, the Jets built a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Michael Frolik and Evander Kane. In the second period, Calgary’s Jiri Hudler made it 2-1, but Carl Klingberg scored his first on a wrap-around and it looked as if the Jets might win in a romp, but Sean Monahan scored at 11:46 and Kris Russell tallied at 12:10 and suddenly it was 3-3.

Adam Pardy and Michael Hutchinson hold the fort against Calgary's Bruce van Brabant.

Adam Pardy and Michael Hutchinson hold the fort against Calgary’s Bruce van Brabant.

But in the third, Paul Postma scored his first of the year and then Blake Wheeler scored his 28th into an empty net and the Jets had a 5-3 win. (As an aside, I don’t think I’ve seen a hockey team with more problems than that Flames outfit. What a mess. And to think, Edmonton is worse. It’s a sad time in Alberta).

Michael Hutchinson picked up his second straight victory and now some real serious decisions have to be made.

With Friday’s victory, the Jets record wins in their final two games of the season, finish 37-35-10, 18-12-5 under Paul Maurice and no better than 11th in the West (amazingly, 18-17-6 at home and 19-18-4 on the road). These things have to happen:

(1) Paul Maurice earned a shot to be the team’s head coach next season. He took over the Jets when the club was in the dumps, four games below .500, and went 18-12-5. The Jets finished two games above .500 and he was six games above .500, despite a number of injuries and big-shot Evander Kane’s petulance. The Jets had better hope Maurice wants the job.

(2) GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has to make a deal just to show he’s trying to do something to give the Jets a chance to go from 11th to eighth. No matter how the season ends, the Jets will be at least seven points out of a playoff spot.

(3) Chevy has decide how he’s going to proceed with his netminders. Does he keep Ondrej Pavelec, deal him or buy him out. Regardless, Chevy has to decide if he’s moving with Pavelec as No. 1 or is Hutchinson penciled in to be next season’s starter.

(4) Something has to be done with Kane. It’s either a wake up call or a move (or have Mark Scheifele babysit him on and off the ice). Chevy can’t ignore the problem any longer.

Another save for Michael Hutchinson.

Another save for Michael Hutchinson.

(5) Do Devin Setoguchi, Olli Jokinen and a load of veteran third and fourth line-level talents (Chris Thorburn, Jim Slater, Matt Halischuk, James Wright, Eric Tangradi and Anthony Peluso) return next season. Is it time to back up the truck on an obvious dearth of secondary scoring? Probably.

On back-to-back nights, the Jets demonstrated that they can compete. Granted, they were both end-of-season garbage games, but still, Cheveldayoff must have seen as many bright spots as dark ones.

Now we’ll see what the GM is made of. Because a five-year plan to win the Stanley Cup is one thing. A five-year plan just to make the playoffs is quite another.

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