The Winnipeg Jets landed short of playoff expectations in the 2013-2014 season and find themselves on the outside looking in once again. In a season filled with offensive inconsistency, goaltending issues, and a coaching change, the Jets will look to regroup in the off-season to figure out what went wrong and what needs to be addressed to reach their goal of finally making the postseason.
With nothing on the line, the Winnipeg Jets tried to provide some entertaining hockey for their remaining home games. The Jets gave Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle as Olli Jokinen and Zach Redmond scored in the second period to tie it at two going into the third. The experience of the Penguins proved to be the deciding factor as Paul Martin scored on the powerplay to give his team a 4-2 win.
The Jets may not have qualified for the playoffs but that didn’t stop them from throwing a wrench into the Toronto Maple Leafs plans of making it. Winnipeg outworked and outplayed a Leaf team, who just like the Jets, have crumbled since the Olympic break. After the two teams exchanged a pair of goals in the first period, Tobias Enstrom scored the go-ahead goal that proved to be the game winner. Ondrej Pavelec overcame a shaky start to stop 23 shots in the victory.
Rookie goalie, Michael Hutchinson, got the chance to prove himself to the Jets to see if he could be a future netminder. He looked solid against the Minnesota Wild in a losing cause. Hutchinson stopped 16 shots only being beaten by Charlie Coyle on the powerplay. The Jets would fall 1-0 to the Wild.
Hutchinson would also get the start for the remaining two games of the season. This time, he got the results that he wanted. He beat the Boston Bruins in a shootout 2-1 that featured a few amazing saves on Jarome Iginla. Evander Kane scored the tying goal with two minutes left and Bryan Little scored the only goal in the shootout. After the game, Hutchinson was all smiles.
“Being able to play well against them goes a long way for your confidence, knowing that you can play in this League,” Hutchinson said. “When you make saves on a guy like [Iginla], that is just an added bonus.”
The following night, Hutchinson stopped 35 of 38 Calgary Flames shots to give the Jets a 5-3 win. Paul Postma scored the game winner in the third period to end the season on a positive note.
There will be a lot of things that Kevin Cheveldayoff will need to address in the off-season including goaltending. He will also look to bolster his secondary scoring and see if head coach Paul Maurice will be committed to a young and fast team. There will be a lot of work to needed for a team that finished 11th in the Western Conference if they want to give their faithful fans something they have been longing for a long time – and that’s playoff hockey.
It’s been a pleasure covering the Winnipeg Jets for the Filipino. Until next season, Jets fans!