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Inconsistency Keeps Jets Out of Playoffs

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Inconsistency continues to be the theme for the Winnipeg Jets this season after they dropped a pair of back-to-back games and leave Florida having been outscored 13–5. These games, and all of Winnipeg’s remaining games, were once labelled as must-wins if they were to have any chance of squeaking into the playoffs.

Although the loss in Tampa Bay did not mathematically eliminate Winnipeg from the playoffs, the final nail in the coffin is potentially hours away. A win by the New York Rangers on Tuesday would make it official: the Winnipeg Jets will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2017–2018 season.

Players knew what was at stake and expressed their frustration after losing 6–1 to the Florida Panthers on Friday. Nikolaj Ehlers, the lone goal scorer, told reporters that the problems are systematic and the team needs to return to the basics.

On the other hand, a day later Kyle Connor questioned the motivation of some of his teammates and their lack of effort.

“I don’t know whether it’s tired, lack of motivation from some guys in the room,” Connor said. “It’s definitely frustrating.”

Paul Stastny appeared to agree with Connor, implying that some teammates have simply checked out and hung goalie Connor Hellebuyck out to dry.

“We left our goalie out to dry. We’ve done it all year,” said Stastny. “Some games, Hellebuyck makes big saves, or they don’t score, but if you keep giving up grade-A chances like that and keep leaving guys alone in the slot, you’re going to get burned. And when you play a skilled team like that, you give them that extra chance to make a play… Like I said, we left Hellebuyck out to dry and I think that’s the most disappointing part.”

Most would agree that the Jets showed some promise in the first two periods against Tampa Bay on Saturday, but that has been the theme all year: the Jets have been unable to consistently play 60 minutes of good hockey.

Often, they either come out of the gate slow and are forced to play catch-up as the game progresses—or they come out strong and coast through the third period.

“I think we were in control of the hockey game,” said interim head coach Dave Lowry. “We jump up 4–2. And then they had a couple of shifts back-to-back where they were able to score that third goal. And then they were able to equalize the game before the second period was over. But we did a lot of good things for two periods.”

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