I believe it was Anberlin who said it best: "This was over before it ever began".
Yes, in fact, the fate of the Winnipeg Jets was essentially sealed coming into this evening's contest against the Montreal Canadiens, after they suffered a debilitating 5-3 loss to the eventual Southeast Division clinching Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
However, though the odds were small -- nay, improbable -- a glimmer of hope still remained that the Jets could backdoor their way into the 2013 playoffs; their first postseason berth since the 2006-07 season when they were still known as the Atlanta Thrashers.
But as the third period of tonight's game began with Winnipeg clinging to a marginal 2-1 lead on goals by James Wright and Blake Wheeler, the out-of-town scoreboard pronounced them D.O.S.
Overtime victories by the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers confirmed what we had already feared to be true: both teams had clinched their prospective playoff seeds and the clock had officially struck midnight for the 2013 edition of the Winnipeg Jets.
So with heavy hearts littering both the Jets' bench and the stands of the MTS Centre, the Jets relinquished themselves passively into the April night, allowing three unanswered Canadiens goals in an eventual 4-2 loss to finish their season.
The end result -- albeit disappointing -- was but a microcosm of what was a pretty incredible regular season full of highs, lows, peaks and valleys. Early projections placed Winnipeg in the basement of the Eastern Conference, drawing the ire of many Jets fans. Instead of meekly playing out three months of the season à la Florida Panthers, the Jets hung in until the final game of the regular season before finally being eliminated.
There's something to be said about the growth this team's grown in leadership and its commitment to one another as seen the past few months. Hopefully their managerial team will continue to tinker with a roster still riddled with deficiencies as Winnipeg has boatloads of untapped "potential".
OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!..... maybe
And now, our final chapter in the Southeast Division has come to a close. No longer will every other game be a 6:00PM CST start. No longer will we share a division with teams commonly referred to as the NHL's worst. So with that, instead of our usual "Ten Thoughts" here is our goodbye to our Eastern Conference opponents.
So long, losers!
Boston Bruins: Hard to make fun of the B's in light of the Boston tragedies and the fact they recently won a Stanley Cup Championship but man, I for one surely won't miss the frequent 2-1 snoozers the Bruins force their opponents to play. So yeah, your team is pretty boring. And David Krejci is better at getting hit with panes of glass than he is at scoring goals. And your coach looks like Bill Dauterive. I could go on, but I fear this information is coming at too fast a pace for any Boston supporters.
Buffalo Sabres: Terry Pegula and Darcy Reiger really have their finger on the pulse of what the Buffalo Sabres really need to return to a semblance of relevancy. Whether it's bringing in Ville Leino, or Christian Ehrhoff, or Steve Ott, at least you know that you can overpay mediocre talent when in a bind.
Carolina Hurricanes: I remember when everyone predicted the Hurricanes as a slam-dunk to win the Southeast this year. Good to know that losing Cam Ward was your true Achilles Heel. But don't worry, I'm sure that Jim Rutherford's salary structuring has this team poised to be a constant for years to come. Oh.... well, good luck with that.
Florida Panthers: Readying themselves to join the Northeast Division next year for some unknown reason, the Florida Panthers proved that 2011-12 was a pure fluke and will qualify for the Seth Jones sweepstakes in early May. Time to rename the "Red Rising" campaign to something more symbolic of your stagnation.
Montreal Canadiens: Andrew Berkshire is your lead blogger at SB Nation and his last name rhymes with Jerkshire. This stuff writes itself.
New Jersey Devils: Though you may choose to ignore this, Martin Brodeur will one day retire. And with a SV% of .901 this season, you should be hoping for a new franchise goalie sooner than later. Maybe you can draft him with that pick you have to forfeit for your cap circumvention on the Ilya Kovalchuk signing?
New York Brooklyn Islanders: I have to admit, I'm going to miss watching your fan base become hipster in front of my eyes. Hearing things like "I was a fan of Matt Martin before he became popular" would have been a fun part of my daily routine.
New York Rangers: Glen Sather, you magnificent bastard! Never change. I mean, who else could constantly bust on free agent signing after free agent signing and yet continue to boastfully set the market on players that are only good enough to clinch the eight and final playoff seed for your franchise. I wonder which Western Conference fan base claims "this will be our year!" as much as you schlubs do. Good riddance and enjoy shot blocking your way to another first round exit.
Ottawa Senators: A team that continues to defy all logic, I have to hand it to you; I have no idea how you managed all year with half your roster in the infirmary. I guess my only advice is to avoid Matt Cooke's skate blades in the playoffs, Don Brennan might be so inclined to write another article about his package if that should happen. Godspeed, Toronto Maple Leafs Jr.
Philadelphia Flyers: Finally, the only one of you clowns that doesn't make me laugh. Just know, whether it's Ilya Bryzgalov, Steve Mason or some other goaltender you undoubtedly overpay, know that your efforts are futile. Consider it the curse of Roman Cechmanek.
Pittsburgh Penguins: I don't think I can creatively diss a team that has outscored the Jets by a combined score of 100-4 in the past two years. I can only hope that Marc-Andre Fleury reverts to his old, shitty self.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steve Yzerman is about three personnel moves away from becoming a younger, thinner version of Jay Feaster. I stole this joke from Ryan Lambert.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Somewhere, our great grandparents are partying in their graves as the Toronto Maple Leafs have secured a playoff spot for the first time since man discovered fire.
Washington Capitals: You are awesome. Never change. (Derek's Note: good luck winning in a competitive division next year)