Three teams going down to wire

The ship is sinking, the sky is falling… and somehow, incredibly, the Winnipeg Jets still control their own destiny.

It’s going to come right down to the wire with Winnipeg, the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues locked in a three-way battle for the Central Division crown. All three teams have two games remaining. The Jets and Predators are tied on top with 96 points, while the Blues have 95 after rallying to tie the Chicago Blackhawks late, only to fall in a shootout Wednesday night.

Whoever ends up on top will be in a first-round playoff series against the first wild-card team, a spot the Dallas Stars currently occupy by three points over the Colorado Avalanche. The second and third-place finishers will face each other in the opening round.

The Jets can still capture the first division title in franchise history. Wins against Colorado and the Arizona Coyotes gets it done, regardless of what St. Louis and Nashville do in their games. That’s because the Jets own the tiebreakers with both clubs by having more regulation and overtime wins (44) than the Blues (41) and Predators (41).

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The ship is sinking, the sky is falling… and somehow, incredibly, the Winnipeg Jets still control their own destiny.

It’s going to come right down to the wire with Winnipeg, the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues locked in a three-way battle for the Central Division crown. All three teams have two games remaining. The Jets and Predators are tied on top with 96 points, while the Blues have 95 after rallying to tie the Chicago Blackhawks late, only to fall in a shootout Wednesday night.

Whoever ends up on top will be in a first-round playoff series against the first wild-card team, a spot the Dallas Stars currently occupy by three points over the Colorado Avalanche. The second and third-place finishers will face each other in the opening round.

The Jets can still capture the first division title in franchise history. Wins against Colorado and the Arizona Coyotes gets it done, regardless of what St. Louis and Nashville do in their games. That’s because the Jets own the tiebreakers with both clubs by having more regulation and overtime wins (44) than the Blues (41) and Predators (41).

However, if the Jets were to falter in either remaining game, they’d need some help on the out-of-town scoreboard.

To put things in the simplest terms, the Jets will finish first as long as they at least mirror what Nashville does, and only allow the Blues to get one more point than them in the next two games. The Blues are at home tonight to a Philadelphia Flyers team already eliminated from the playoffs, while Nashville is in a similar spot as they host the Vancouver Canucks. Both of those games will start one hour before the puck drops at the Pepsi Center in Denver for the Jets’ tilt against the Avalanche.

The Jets, for example, would clinch the title tonight if they win and Nashville loses in regulation and St. Louis loses in any fashion. They would clinch no worse than second place, which means home-ice advantage in the first round at least — if they win and one of Nashville or St. Louis loses — either the Predators in regulation or the Blues in any fashion.

Or, perhaps nothing gets settled if they all have a similar result, whether it’s a win or a loss. If that happens, all eyes turn to Saturday and some big-time drama on the final day of the regular season.

The Blues host the Canucks in an afternoon affair, while the Predators are at home to the Blackhawks with a 6 p.m. start. The Jets don’t face off against the Coyotes until 9 p.m., meaning they’ll know exactly what they need to do — or don’t need to do — by the time they hit the ice.

As a result, the Jets likely won’t know who their first-round opponent will be — or even whether they’re starting at home next week or on the road — until quite possibly near the stroke of midnight Saturday.

Stay tuned.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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