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What’s in a Schedule? Breaking Down the North Division’s Three-Horse Race

Photos by James Carey Lauder

What’s in a Schedule? Breaking Down the North Division’s Three-Horse Race

With roughly 20 games left to play, the Winnipeg Jets sit very comfortably within the all-Canadian North Division’s Top-3 teams. And that likely will not change in the final month-and-a-half of play. Despite a seemingly lopsided loss to the once-juggernaut Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, Winnipeg is very much alive and kicking in very tight grouping of top-heavy competitors.

In what appears to be a three-horse race to the finish line with Toronto and the Edmonton Oilers, the Jets host the most-favourable schedule venue-wise of the division’s top clubs. Of the team’s 19 remaining games, 11 come within the familiar confines of Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place. The remaining eight games are on the road.

Toronto’s remaining schedule features just eight home games, with 12 contests coming on the road. Of Edmonton’s final 19 games, 11 come on the road, while the Oilers will also see just eight games played at home.

Toronto sits atop the three clubs with a 12-6-2 home record, followed closely by Edmonton, which is 12-8-0 on the season. Winnipeg’s 10-6-1 record sees the least wins of the three clubs, but also the least games played within Bell MTS Place.

Away records favour the Jets, who own a 12-7-1 mark in that regard, while Toronto has an 11-4-1 record, with Edmonton bringing up the rear at 10-6-1. Points percentage rankings also see Toronto atop the list at .681, with Winnipeg currently registering a .622 statistic and Edmonton owning a .608 mark.

Also making things more interesting is the breakdown of which opponents each of the Jets, Leafs and Oilers play in their remaining schedules. Exactly opposite of the home-ice ‘advantage’, the Jets face off against the Leafs/Oilers eight more times prior to season end. Toronto and Edmonton will not play each other again in the regular season, while Toronto faces Winnipeg five more times, and Edmonton sees the Jets upon three occasions.

Currently owning a 22-13-2 record through the end of March, Winnipeg remains three points behind the Maple Leafs for first place in the division, despite Toronto having one game in hand on both the Jets and Oilers.

Mind you, all of this comes down to the ability for the league to finish its full 56-game regular season with no casualties in terms of lost games. Should games be ‘postponed’ and unable to be made up due to scheduling conflicts, the league will base its final standings on points percentage.

After seeing Montreal forced out of action for four games last week, Wednesday night saw the cancellation of the scheduled game between Calgary and Vancouver following a number of positive tests on the Canucks’ squad. With a strict set of COVID-19 protocols in place, the hope is that teams will be able to make up postponed games following the conclusion of the previously scheduled regular season.

Next up for Winnipeg is the second game of the doubleheader with Toronto on Friday evening, before potentially hosting the aforementioned COVID-Canucks on Sunday and Tuesday next week. With an emphasis on points every night, the Jets will certainly look to up the ante in a month that sees 15 games in 29 days.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com.

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