Okay, kids, I believe some mindful breathing exercises would do us all some good right about now.
Breathing in, say, “Wild card playoff spot.”
Breathing out, say, “It could be worse; I could be a member of Leafs Nation.”
Breathing in: “Wild card playoff spot.”
Beathing out: “It could be worse; I could be a member of Leafs Nation.”
Very good, grasshoppers. We now can proceed with the remainder of the National Hockey League season, which still harbors much hope that meaningful matches will be played in the Little Hockey House on the Prairie post-April 11.
Yes, the Winnipeg Jets are in swoon, having been on the short side of the scoreboard in each of their past four assignments, but it will take considerable calamity and a faceplant of epic, Maple Leafian level for them to fail to qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament. They still see the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild in the rear-view mirror, and there is no cautionary sticker advising them that “objects behind may be closer than they actually appear.”
While it’s true the Stars have provided a slight hint that they are about to awaken from a season-long funk, that could be as much of a blip as the Jets’ current skid.
So what am I saying? That the Jets are home and cooled?
Odds are, yes.
Dallas and Colorado are seven points in arrears of the Jets. The Wild are eight. Since the 2005-06 season, only two outfits have clambered out of such a deep hole this deep into the season to secure a spot in the spring tournament: The 2005-06 San Jose Sharks (minus-7) and the 2008-09 St. Louis Blues (minus-9). The Jets, of course, would also have to keep an eye peeled for the Los Angeles Kings, who are six points back and, were they to overhaul Winnipeg, would bring the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames into the fray.
Still, recent history dictates that clubs facing such deficits do not play hockey once the regular season is put to bed.
That having been said, I recognize that there remains much grunt work ahead. The job assumes a much more intense hue once the all-star shenanigans are hindsight, and slackers need not apply. The thing is, the Jets are already into playoff hockey. Although not yet dressed up in post-season finery, was not the Stars-Jets joust on Saturday night a de facto playoff game? Back in the day, we would have called it a four-pointer.
So get in playoff mode. Totally. And how do the Jets do that?
I say they ought to take the lead of Mathieu Perreault and sprout chin whiskers. Yes, I realize that facial fur is best reserved for that moment when you actually secure a playoff berth. Mid-April and beyond is when it’s trendy. Not in February.
Why wait for spring, though? Do it now. Grow playoff beards. Everybody. Perreault has set the standard. You could hide Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames in that fab foliage of his. Be like “Matty.”
This, of course, might meet with the resistence of some wives/girlfriends, but when advised how many new pair of shoes a playoff bonus could provide I’m certain they would play along. (Before anyone accuses me of sexist stereotyping, it’s a fact: We like shoes. Lots of them. I have at least two dozen pair. So there.)
So put away the Gillettes, Jets. You’re already into playoff hockey.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.