The NHL regular season ends Friday, but most of storylines of the second season have already been decided, including the Winnipeg Jets facing the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, starting early next week.
And make no mistake: the jubilation and relief the Jets celebrated just a few days ago will be replaced with the acknowledgement that beating the Knights, who have the best record in the Western Conference, is going to be an uphill battle.
But despite all the promotion by the NHL that the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin April 17, the Jets might dispute that. You see, they’ve been playing playoff hockey for a couple of weeks now.
BRING ON THE WHITEOUT ❄️ pic.twitter.com/GSA9XNWPaq
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) April 12, 2023
In many ways, the last seven games — the team’s own seven-game series, if you will — have been played with edge and urgency. And the Jets have won five of those games.
They’ve done it on the back of Connor Hellebucyk, with Mark Scheifele on the wing, and they’ve done it with a defensive corps that has returned to the form that we saw for the first three months of the regular season, when the Jets were the talk of the NHL. Sixteen of the last 25 goals this team has scored have a defenceman as part of the scoring play. So much of this team’s success is from strong offence from the defence.
And for the Jets to have a chance versus Vegas, that has to continue.
An uphill battle? The underdog Jets? Rick Bowness wouldn’t have it any other way.
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