Let's begin by crunching some numbers, class (even though I hate crunching numbers; I was horrible at math as a kid). At present, the Winnipeg Jets are trying to chase down four outfits—Washington Capitals, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, New York Rangers. If each of those teams plays .500 the rest of the way, they will finish with 54, 55, 53 and 53 points, respectively. Therefore, the likely magic number for les Jets to join the Stanley Cup tournament is 54. That would require a 5-1 finish. Doable? Absolutely. Likelihood? Cross your fingers...A best-case scenario for the Winnipegs: One of the two New York teams tank and win only two times. Then the Jets' magic number would be 52, or a 4-2 final push. So, the local heroes have only one way of assessing their lot in life: They have to run the table...
At Little Bit of This: I don't know about you, but I look at the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Jets and I see one glaring difference: The coaching. I don't believe for a nanosecond that the Leafs have superior overall talent than the Jets. But I do believe Randy Carlyle demands more out of his people and holds them more accountable than does Claude Noel with the Jets. Every time I've watched the Leafs this season, they've played as if their jobs are in jeopardy. All of them. Carlyle squeezes every ounce of juice out of his Leafs, while there have been too many nights when that hasn't been the case with Team Winnipeg. I say Carlyle should be coach of the year for turning water into Molson Canadian, and Noel should pop some nasty pills. What the Jets truly need is someone like Alex Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos in the lineup. You know, a game-change. Yes, I realize every team needs a game-changer like Ovie and Stamkos, but we're talking about the Jets here, OK? And I'm thinking Evander Kane can be that person. But will he be that person in the next half dozen games?...I watched Don Cherry in his Bully Pulpit on Saturday night and I had to check my calendar to see if it's 2013 or if we're still living in the 1970s/80s. I mean, he went off on one of his us-vs.-them rants (Euros/Russians vs. good Canadian boys) and, of course, the information he produced made it abundantly clear that we're better than them. "Don’t ever forget kids, it’s our game. We’re the best," is how he closed his sermon. Fine. We're the best. The problem I have with that dog-eared discussion is this: Didn't the us-vs.-them debate end last century? Does anyone other than the Lord of Loud talk about it anymore? Come on, Grapes! I think you're terrific. But, hey, can't we just agree that there are great Euro/Russian players and there are great Canadian players. Move on to the next topic, man...How good a season was Sidney Crosby having before his trip to the dentist? Well, he's still leading the National Hockey League in scoring...The Edmonton Oilers will not qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament. Again. They might get the No. 1 pick in the NHL's annual garage sale of the premium 18-year-olds this summer. Again. So when does somebody decide that the Kevin Lowe-Steve Tambellini tandem is a failure and show them the door?
A Little Bit of That: Hands up anyone who'd like to see Montreal-Toronto playoff series. If you're from my era (I'm so old only carbon dating can determine my age), there's nothing you'd like to see more...Fashion note: It's about that girl on the Hockey Night in Canada studio crew, Andi Petrillo. Who chooses her outfits? Don Cherry? I swear, looking at either of them is more hazardous than staring at a solar eclipse...Why do I get the feeling we haven't heard the last of Roberto Luongo as a major factor with the Canucks? Something tells me the world's highest-paid caddy will have a large say in Vancouver's fate before the dust settles this season...In pre-season prognostications, I picked the Jets to finish ninth. That's where they stand today. Mind you, I also picked the Leafs to finish 13th in the Eastern Conference and les Canadiens to be riding in the caboose. Yup, said they'd be dead last. So, when it comes to my predictions, proceed with caution if they influence you at the betting window...Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province suggests the Canucks should shut down the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, for a a game or two so they can relax and recharge prior to the grind that is the Stanley Cup tournament. I say why not? I mean, I watched them lose 4-3 to the Avalanche on Saturday and, believe me, all the other Canucks took the day off...Which saga ends first? Luongo or the Coyotes? My money is on Luongo leaving Vancouver before the 'Yotes pack their bags. But only because Gary Bettman has no say in what happens to Luongo...Once upon a time, Alberta was a hockey powerhouse. Now the two teams there play meaningless games in April...Interesting stat: In Toronto's 5-1 lashing of les Canadiens on Saturday night, the Leafs laid 47 hits on the Habs. Only one Toronto player failed to bump into a Canadien—Phil Kessel. Why does that not surprise you? But, hey, he isn't paid to get his jersey wrinkled...Is P.K. Subban one of those guys you hate if he's one of the other guys but a darling if he's on your side? I think he is...Just found out that Jets' deep-thinker Claude Noel was born on Halloween. Perhaps that explains why his team is trick one night and treat the next.
At the Buzzer: This from my favorite (not!) sports scribe, Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press: "With each win the Jets increase their probability of reaching the post-season." Really? What was your first clue, Sherlock?