Winnipeg – The inevitable occurred for the Winnipeg Jets on Monday Night. A 4-1 victory by the St. Louis Blues over the Arizona Coyotes officially eliminated the Jets from making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons since the team relocated from Atlanta.
And if you include the 11 seasons in Atlanta, this franchise has missed the post season fifteen times, and has yet to win a playoff game.
Inconsistent goal tending, consistently poor penalty killing, injuries, and youth were a recipe for non success for the Jets of 2016-17. Neither Connor Hellebuyck, Michael Hutchinson, or Ondrej Pavelec were able to provide Winnipeg with the caliber of net minding required to be a contender in the Western Conference.
Hellebuyck has appeared in 53 games and has not finished 8 of his 50 starting assignments while compiling a 295 GAA (63rd in the NHL) and .906 saves percentage (56th). Hutchinston has played in 26 games and was 65th in GAA at 2.96 and 62nd in saves percentage at .903. Pavelec only managed to stay healthy for 8 games after being recalled from the Manitoba Moose in mid-January and his numbers – 3.55 GAA (77th) and .888 svs % (72nd) are not likely to have teams busting down his door when he becomes an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on July 1st.
So not surprisingly, the Jets go into their final 6 games with a 28th worst defensive record in the NHL in goals against, aided greatly by the league’s 2nd least proficient penalty killing unit at 76.5%. Winnipeg has allowed at least one power play goal against in 41 of their 76 games to date, and in 16 of those games – opponents scored multiple times with the extra skater.
The blue line was affected most by man games lost, led by Tyler Myers with 65. Jacob Trouba missed a combined 22 due to hold out and injury and Toby Enstrom has been out for 16 games. The loss of Bryan Little for 23 games at the start of the season didn’t help. Nor did the extended absences of Shawn Matthias (31 games), Joel Armia (25 games) and Mathieu Perreault (17 games) up front. Even rookie of the year candidate Patrik Laine is approaching double digits in that category.
Factor all of that in with the Jets having one of the youngest teams in the NHL, and sitting 24th in the overall standings should not come as a complete shock. But that doesn’t make another spring of non-playoff hockey any less frustrating for Winnipeg fans who desperately want something from their hockey club in the win-loss column to get fired up about.