So the Jets finished the year on a positive note with a 3-2 win over the Leafs. A great win to say the least as the Jets are in the thick of the battle for a playoff spot in the very tight Eastern Conference.
Yes the Jets are currently holding a playoff berth in their hands, but many have stated that this is due to the fact that they played a sickening amount of games at home in December.
There is no questioning the fact that they had a huge advantage playing all those games (12 in all) at the sold-out MTS Center.
Others are saying that the real Jets will show themselves in the upcoming schedule which has them playing the majority of their games in January away from the confines of the MTS Center. Maybe so. But here are some facts that might sway your opinion of just what to expect from this team in the coming months.
For the most part, I think everyone can agree that having an entire team move to another city is a huge undertaking. Not to mention the fact that you changed the head coach and rest of the staff. So in my estimation I think you can completely write off the first 20 games of the season. There are far too many things going on in the players lives away from hockey in this period of time for it NOT to be a distraction.
In their first 20 games of the season the Jets posted a record of 8-9-3. Not too bad considering all the crap going on all around them. This record was made up of 12 road games in which they posted a 3-6-3 record. Not great, but like I said, they had to get used to a lot of differences between last year and this one.
I think now that the adjustment period is over, you can look at this team from the beginning of December on and have a pretty good guage of what they are like. Yes the home games in December definitely helped but don't expect them to fold up now that they are going on the road (9 of their 13 games in January are on the road).
Now that they have had the chance to adjust to Claude Noel's system I fully expect this team to win at least 5 of those 9, if not more. Truth be told, the home games will be more challenging as they will face the Sharks, Devils, Sabres and Panthers. If they can go 3-1 at home and post a 5-4 road record I would call January a success.
You can also bet that we will start to see a little separation in the Eastern Conference in terms of the battle for a playoff berth. If the Jets can find a way to win their road games in January and let the home crowd continue to be a factor they will still be in a playoff spot come February.
Don't be surprised if this team ends up in the playoffs, and in saying that, don't be surprised if they find a way to win at least one round. I mean, tell me who is going to want to go to play at the MTS Center. If you think the place is crazy now, just wait until they have a chance to cheer on their team when it really matters the most. The return of the original White Out will be insane and I can't see any team wanting to play in that arena.
Only time will tell if my predictions come true, but mark my words, this team will make the playoffs.