Jets trying to shake history, make playoffs

Updated: April 16, 2013, 12:58 PM ET
By Craig Custance

For the entire month of March, the Winnipeg Jets didn't have one practice. Not one, according to coach Claude Noel. It was one of the scheduling quirks of a lockout season filled with them, and it's a stretch most teams around the NHL have had to deal with.

"At the 42-game mark, we had played 42 games in 82 days. We'd played the most in the league," Noel said when we chatted Monday afternoon. "[In March], we played 16 games, every other night."

And they did it as members of the Southeast Division located in Manitoba, the lingering result of the move from Atlanta.

Over the previous four days, they finally got their break. A team picture Friday, a complete day off Saturday and two solid practices to sharpen their game after a three-game stretch put them back in the playoff hunt.

On Thursday, the Jets beat the Florida Panthers 7-2 for their third consecutive win to give them 44 points this season. That's good enough for the No. 9 spot in the Eastern Conference, and, thanks to another loss by the fast-sinking New Jersey Devils Monday night (0-6-4 in their past 10 games), the Jets might be the only legitimate bubble team left in the East with a shot at making the playoffs and shaking up the current top eight.