The disappointment among the Winnipeg Jets was unmistakable after their most recent game.
After a 3-1 setback Wednesday to the Detroit Red Wings that put them on a three-game losing streak, the Jets (33-28-10, 76 points) are well aware their chances now to make the playoffs are near zero.
Sitting seven points out of a playoff spot with 11 games remaining before Thursday’s action, the Jets will face an even more difficult task with the league-leading Colorado Avalanche (50-14-6, 106 points) visiting them on Friday night.
“Frustration,” said Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey, encapsulating his team’s feelings after the loss to Detroit. “Obviously we can’t afford to lose games right now, and that’s a game we shouldn’t lose. Just with their schedule and our desperation, they’re playing on a back to back. It’s frustrating. I think every guy knows that in the room.”
After being a middling club following the first two months of the season, the Jets had high hopes they could make a miracle run when they posted nine wins in 12 games in March. Instead, their offensive touch has disappeared during their three-game swoon, and that’s on top of a struggling power play and ineffective penalty kill.
“No matter what it is – we had good zone time, a lot of chances – it’s still frustrating,” forward Kyle Connor said. “We need to come out with a win. That’s the bottom line. We need two points at this time of the year.”
The Avalanche are on the other end of the spectrum. Despite a rash of injuries, Colorado is riding a four-game winning streak capped by Tuesday’s 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to sweep a home-and-home series against Pittsburgh that clinched the Avs’ ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Among those who have been sidelined are captain Gabriel Landeskog, No. 2 scorer Nazem Kadri, 19-goal scorer Valeri Nichushkin and defensemen Samuel Girard and Ryan Murray.
“Getting those wins adds some confidence to our group,” forward Alex Newhook said. “It adds some knowledge that we can play these games with this intensity and come out on top.”
Defenseman Bo Byram returned to action Tuesday after being sidelined the previous 37 games due to concussion issues.
The Avalanche have put together a 9-1-1 run in which they have outscored their opponents 38-23, and the defensive performance has coach Jared Bednar excited about the potential of his squad.
“We have a talented group with high expectations,” Bednar said. “It’s hard not to like the season we’ve had to this point. But more recently … since (Landeskog) has gone out, you look at just the way our team is digging in defensively, playing the right way. … We’re starting to find a bit of our offensive mojo again. In order to win at the most important time of the year, you have to be able to check properly, and you have to do that for 60 minutes.
“Most of our games here recently, we’ve been doing that, against really good teams and down guys. I really like what I’m seeing. I feel like we’re still improving at this point in the year.”
–Field Level Media