For all the excitement surrounding the Winnipeg Jets’ Stanley Cup championship, the NHL has had a tough year.
The team has won just eight playoff games, and the Jets are just a point behind the Los Angeles Kings in the standings.
The last time the Jets won the Stanley Cups was in 2006, when the team lost the final two games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But while the Jets haven’t had a winning season since 2010-11, they’re still the best team in the Eastern Conference and are a lock for a Stanley Cup berth.
And with the season on the horizon, the team is hoping that its young talent, including forward Dustin Byfuglien, can make an impact in the coming weeks.
Here’s a look at some things to watch in Winnipeg: Where will the Jets play?
The Jets have lost seven of their past eight games and are just one point behind Toronto for the second wild-card spot in the East.
They’re a tough out to make the playoffs with a seven-game winning streak, but they’re also one of just three teams with fewer than 15 games remaining.
The Jets won’t be a particularly exciting team to watch this year, but there are plenty of things to like about the way they’re playing.
First, the Jets have won eight of their last nine games.
They’ve also won eight games in a row, and they’ve been able to stay within striking distance of the NHL’s best team (Toronto) since last season.
The only time the team has been outscored by a goal in any of those games was in their last home game against the St. Louis Blues, a 5-2 defeat that featured the first power-play goal in franchise history.
It’s a bit surprising to see a team that was a wild card spot before the season suddenly be one of the league’s hottest teams.
Winnipeg also has the NHL record for most consecutive wins (29).
But while they’re not quite as impressive as the Bruins or Flyers, they are a much better team overall than they were last year.
Winnipeg has scored a lot of goals, and its goal differential is a combined plus-22.
They are also the only team in League history to win five straight games in December, an accomplishment that comes at a cost to their chances at the Stanley.
Winnipeg is also playing at home for the first time since 2013-14, and while it’s difficult to call the Jets a playoff team, there are some things the Jets can do right.
For one, they have two NHL-record players: Dustin Byfdahl and Connor Hellebuyck.
Byfahl, a 20-year-old defenseman, has been a big reason why the Jets scored the most goals last season, as he was among the league leaders with 21 points.
Byg, meanwhile, is a dynamic offensive force who is also a threat to score, as evidenced by his eight goals and seven assists in the past eight contests.
Winnipeg’s goal-scoring problems are partly due to their poor power play, but Byfaglien and Byfdal have been key to that.
And it’s worth noting that Byfarg’s goals and assists are more than offset by his minus-4 rating, which ranks as the worst in the NHL.
How will the team do in the playoffs?
Winnipeg’s season has been marred by some rough patches throughout the year.
Its first-round exit in the first round in 2014-15 was followed by a 4-0 loss in the second round to the Detroit Red Wings in 2016-17.
But in 2018-19, the Winnipeg native was a huge factor in the team’s playoff push.
He was named the NHL rookie of the year and helped lead the Jets to a championship, including winning the Calder Trophy as the league rookie of his year.
By the time the Winnipeg Blues, who beat Winnipeg in the conference finals in 2017, came calling last season for help in 2018, Byfager was already entrenched as the team captain.
By this point in his career, he has more than earned a spot in this year’s All-Star game, where he has scored 11 goals and 24 points.
Winnipeg could use Byfage’s scoring punch, and it would be a big step forward if he can recapture the magic he had in his first full season with the team.
And while Winnipeg is still the worst team in their division, the Blackhawks and Predators could make an interesting series.
The Winnipeg Jets play the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday at the MTS Centre.
The game is slated to kick off at 7 p.m.
EST and will be streamed live on TSN5, TSN Radio One, TBS ONE and the TSN app.
Winnipeg Jets games can be heard on TTS Hockey.