On Saturday afternoon, Zach Parise talked about the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. As always, he was generous.
This month, the Wild is 6-1-1 against Eastern opponents and while Parise claimed that his team has “always had tough games against the East,” the numbers say otherwise. The Wild, a team that was whipped 3-0 by St. Louis on Monday night, has had a pretty easy time against Eastern opponents and because they’ve dominated the East, they’re one of the top teams in the West.
On Monday night, the Winnipeg Jets went into Newark and beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1. For awhile in the third period, it appeared as if the Devils might mount a comeback, but there was really never any sense the Devils were going to beat Ondrej Pavelec more than once (and that once turned out to be a lucky goal). The Jets were blocking shots, playing tough in front of their own net and the Devils just don’t have the skill to score much. They have a load of grinders and hard workers, but that team doesn’t score at all. They have 50 goals in 24 games.
After Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington, the teams in the East aren’t very good — despite what the CBC wants to tell you about the Leafs and Habs. The Jets are now 5-1-1 against Eastern opponents (6-10-4 against the West) and it just gets better every time they face an Eastern opponent.
The Jets opened their longest road trip of the season against the Devils and even though they’re on the road, they have a great opportunity to get back into the hunt in the West. They get the Islanders on Wednesday, the Flyers on Thursday, the Rangers Monday, the Panthers next Thursday and the Lightning next Friday. Not only do they get six Eastern Conference teams, they get a total of five teams that are .500 or worse. The Lightning, without Steven Stamkos, is the best team they face.
Overall, the East isn’t very good. Those teams just don’t score. They have some grinders, but they don’t hit very much. They’re used to sleeping in their own beds every night and it shows.
The Devils worked hard in the corners, and they slapped the Jets with their sticks, but they didn’t pass very well and they poke checked like pussies. As much trouble as the Jets have had winning games, they shouldn’t have much trouble beating Eastern teams because they skate better, have more skill and work harder. They also have better goaltending.
The Jets have 26 points in 26 games and that won’t cut it (a point a game isn’t good enough in the West), but they have a wonderful opportunity right now. They are off to a good start on this six game road trip through the horrendous Eastern Conference. Jets fans can only hope their beloveds don’t squander this chance to get back in the playoff hunt.