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ANALYSIS: Hard work about to begin for playoff-bound Jets

Just a little “X.” That’s all the Jets were looking for on Thursday night.

It would signify that Stanley Cup Playoff participation was guaranteed for the hockey team. A victory against the Flames would give them two more points, and that “X” beside their name in the Central Division standings.

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When the puck dropped Thursday night, the Jets were 23 points ahead of Calgary in the standings, so victory was a cinch. Right?  Not so fast.

Oh sure, they got the “X” they needed. But it wasn’t really much of an artistic success. With the playoffs two weeks and six games away, the focus of this club will be to clean up some key aspects of their game, readying to play in the postseason.

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For example, two power play goals Thursday night were nice, but when the opportunity to put the Flames away on a five-minute major, Winnipeg could not respond. In fact, the best scoring chance on the major was a Flames’ chance that required an acrobatic save by Connor Hellebuyck.

That was preceded by allowing the Flames back in the game, with a lapse in intensity, just sitting back letting Calgary move up the ice at will. For two periodsc, you had to wonder if getting that “X” was really that important to this team.

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The third period was good enough — strong enough — for everyone to know that a playoff spot was a reality.

The challenge of the remaining schedule is to improve the simple key aspects of the game that made the Jets the talk of the league before the all-star break, when they were the best five-on-five team in the league.

Improving how to get the puck out of your own zone, keeping the opposition to the outside, finishing checks — and oh yeah, ensuring this team has no major injuries between now and April 20.

So for now, enjoy the “X” beside the team’s name. Now the hard work really begins.

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