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A Tough Two Weeks for Winnipeg in the Central Division

Can the Jets get back to the top of the Central this season?

Two weeks ago, the Winnipeg Jets were in a great position in the Central division standings. Since then, though, much has changed. The climb back to the top isn’t an insurmountable one yet, but after four straight losses, they’re going to need a great finish to overtake Dallas and Colorado. Here’s exactly what’s changed since March 14th:

With the top of the Central being as competitive as any division in the NHL, the top seed is extremely important. If the Jets were to finish in the third position, they’d have to go up against Dallas or Colorado without home ice advantage. If they won that series, there’s a decent chance they’d see the other in the second round, also without home ice advantage. Of course, you’ve got to beat the best to be the best eventually, but this schedule certainly wouldn’t do them any favors on their way to the Cup.

The Final Ten Games

If the Jets want a chance to get back on top, they need to put an end to the losing streak ASAP. Thankfully, Thursday will mark the second contest of a five-game homestand as they face off against Vegas. After the defending champs, they’ll go against the Sens, Kings, and Flames. Following those games, they’ll be back on the road for what could be a crucial trip away from Winnipeg against their Central division rivals. On the trip, they’re set to play the Wild, Predators, Stars, and Avalanche. If the Jets still need to make up some points, those last two games will be their best opportunity to do so. 

Unfortunately for Winnipeg, the Central-leading Stars have a much easier remaining schedule. Of their nine remaining games, five will come against teams that are no longer in a playoff spot. Colorado, on the other hand, has the toughest strength of schedule left in the league with games against the Rangers, Stars, Jets, Oilers, Predators and Golden Knights still to be played. If there was any team that could handle that schedule right now, though, it would probably be the Avs. After losing for the first time in ten games on Tuesday, they’ll be hungry to get back in the win column. 

What Are the Odds?

It’s no secret that Winnipeg’s chances of winning the Central have dropped significantly in the last two weeks and the betting odds reflect just that. On Bet365, the team is currently +650 to take the top spot, while Dallas is -110 and Colorado +125. Other sites reflect similar numbers. So, have the Jets fallen too far, or can they pull off a remarkable rally in the final ten games of the season? They’ll have their opportunities, but going up against two of the best teams in the league won’t be easy.

They’ll need to be as sharp as they’ve been all season, and that needs to start with Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck is the favourite for the Vezina this year, but this Winnipeg team goes as he goes. In his last three games, the Jets’ starter has allowed a combined twelve goals on 73 shots. That’s a save percentage of .862%.

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