I started using the term "Must Win" at the end of Febuary and have been adding qualifiers ever since. In March the games became "Super Must Wins" and now as we come to the drawing of breath before the storm the Jets face a "Super Critical Must Win" . Yes folks we are now at Def-Con 2 on the must win meter, Awoooogggggaaa!
Despiter all the perms and combs the numbers guys might throw at you it basically comes down to this; three teams are hunting down the last two contended playoff spots in the west but the Jets are only allowed into one. At the end of the day the music will stop and either LA, Winnipeg, or Calgary will be left without a chair. With four games left Calgary plays both LA and the Jets, which of course gives all teams involved the opportunity to control their own fate. However there's still one enormous hurdle left for the Jets to overcome, a back to back with two of their toughest opponents in the west Minnesota and St. Louis. Two wins will be a tall but completely necessary order as we march into tonight's game in this super critical must win situation.
Keys to the Game
- Goaltending. If we get it we win, if not the offense will have to get at least three against a stingy Wild defense and an even better goalie. Pav to me looked shaky against Vancouver, lets hope he can find himself again for this game.
- Score early and a lot. The Jets game plan lately has been to score 47 goals in the first two periods and then hang on for a one goal win. I hate this trend but it's happening so lets go get those goals early.
- Get back to playing in the neutral zone. When the Jets lock down the neutral zone they're a super tough team to handle. When they give up the neutral zone, they get caught chasing in their own end.
- Play 60 minutes. It's a tired phrase but the Jets lately have lost games in the final minutes of the third period. No sitting back, play in the other end all the way through the game.
- Intensity. The Jets are in the fight of their franchise history and it has to show up on the ice. There's no making the play-offs, you ARE in the play-offs and these four games are your first round.
- Goaltending. If Dubnyk Dubnyks you will most likely win. A hot goalie has stymied and frustrated the Jets more than once.
- A Sedin-like cycle. If you want to look at how to beat the Jets look at how the Vancouver Canucks play them. Gain the zone with speed and set up the cycle down low. Jets have a real hard time defending this and start running around panicking while Pavelec ends up wandering away from his post.
- Stretch them out. Jets can be victimized by the long stretch pass, try it often, you'll most likely be rewarded.
- Poke the bear. As always with the Jets (I should just copy and paste this into every preview) agitate and get them to take the stupid penalty. They love taking stupid penalties, especially in the third period.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Parise. He scores too many goals.
The Jets find themselves in the strange position of having the best season in franchise history and yet still desperately trying to claw their way into the post season. The play-offs are so close that Jets nation can practically taste it and if the Jets were to fall out after holding down a wild card spot since November it would be a tragedy of epic proportions.
A huge task stands between the Jets and the promised land, are they up for it? A wise man once said; "You know who makes the play-offs? Teams that deserve to be in the play-offs." Tonight will be the first of four tests to see if the Jets deserve to be there.