With the Winnipeg Jets getting knocked out of the first-round of the NHL Playoffs playoffs, oddsmakers and bettors are trying to figure out why another top team in the regular season couldn’t make it to the second round. The Jets, who finished second Central Division were ousted by the third-place St. Louis Blues.
That the Blues even made the playoffs was not short of a miracle. The team was last in the division in December, and many had written them off for the year. But there they were downing Winnipeg in six games, a team many thought would make a return trip to the Western Conference Final.
“Tough to swallow,” said Winnipeg center Bryan Little. “I think we had really high expectations for ourselves coming into the season. It just feels disappointing right now.”
This, Little said, was a lot more difficult to take than last year’s defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final.
“I’d say it’s a bit harder,” Little said. “Obviously, last year was tough. Making it that far and feeling like we had a shot at it but this year, it was the same thing. We felt like we had a good team and pretty much the same team and high expectations for ourselves. I think that’s why it’s disappointing.”
Jets Join Jilted Others
Winnipeg is not alone. The Calgary Flames had the most points in the West, but they were bounced by the Colorado Avalanche, the last team to make the playoffs. The Flames were the second pick to win the Cup at 8/1. They were a -180 pick to win defeat Colorado.
The Flames had not been to the playoffs since 2017, but were hustled out of the first round in five games. The final game was an embarrassing 5-1 loss at home.
Calgary coach Bill Peters was at a loss to explain what went wrong.
“Some of the strengths we had during the regular season weren’t strengths in Round 1,” Peters said. “I can’t explain it to you why some of those went away. It’ll be interesting as we reflect and look back and try and find some answers.”
Tampa Bay Reeling
Still Calgary’s loss wasn’t the biggest surprise. Tampa Bay was a 2/1 favorite to win the Stanley Cup, and a -300 to win their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Not only did the Lightning not win the series, they didn’t win a game. They were swept by the Blue Jackets in the biggest shock yet of the playoffs.
“They were the better team,” Lightning center and captain Steven Stamkos said. “They executed their game plan. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. If we had the answers we would have found a way to win a game.”
Predators Hunted by Dallas
Nashville could be another top team sent packing. The Predators are down 3-2 in their best-of-seven series to the Dallas Stars. The winner of the Central Division have to win Game 6 at Dallas Monday to avoid elimination, then win Game 7 at home.
Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette knows how difficult this will be, but said his players won’t be intimidated.
“They’re battle-tested, and they’re ready for an opportunity like this,” Laviolette said. “Now we load the plane and we’ve got to go out there and we’ve got to deliver that. I do think that the experiences that we’ve been through, they make us a little bit tougher in a situation like this. We shouldn’t be deer in headlights when a game like this happens. We’ve been here before.”