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Nobody dominated the 1st round more than the Winnipeg Jets

The Jets beat the Wild in Game 5 to advance in the playoffs. They controlled the play better than anyone.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t a sweep, but there wasn’t a more lopsided first-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the one between the Jets and the Wild. It ended mercifully with a 5-0 Jets romp in Friday’s Game 5, which was absolutely reflective of how badly they destroyed the Wild throughout the series. The gladdest people that this series is over should be the Wild, who can stop getting beaten up on national TV in a couple of countries now.

This Jets delivered the Wild an absolute dropkicking.

They don’t offer PhDs in hockey analytics. But if they did offer those, you wouldn’t need one to figure out that the Jets ran the Wild out of the building over the last week. The combined score was 16-9, Jets, and it was 14-3 in the four games Winnipeg won.

That does a decent job of capturing the breadth of Winnipeg’s dominance, but it doesn’t get all the way there. The Jets controlled 59 percent of the series’ total shot attempts at five-on-five, more than any of the other 15 teams that have played in the first round. They had 61 percent of the series’ scoring chances.

It’s easy to assume when a series is as non-competitive as this one that something fluky must have been at play. Bad goaltending, maybe, or some out-of-this-world goal-scoring spurt by a player who’s usually not that good. But nothing like that happened here.

The Wild were beaten so thoroughly that if there were any justice in the hockey world, their players would be forced to write handwritten apology letters to all of the Jets’ parents: “We are sorry for wasting your children’s time during this series.”

The Jets got some breaks along the way, of course.

Referees on the ice in Game 4 didn’t penalize defenseman Josh Morrissey for a brutal cross-check to Eric Staal’s head, which would’ve given the Wild a five-on-three power play and maybe kept the Jets from scoring the game’s only non-empty net goal. Bruce Boudreau was overly dramatic in saying that missed call “cost us the game,” because the Wild didn’t actually, you know, score any goals.

But the story of this series was simple. The Jets were the better team by a million miles, and the scores mostly reflected their dominance. They skated the Wild to shreds and flashed the finishing ability that got them 3.4 goals per game (tied for second-best in the league) in the regular season. The Wild were not in the same class.

The Jets’ stars delivered with consistency. Mark Scheifele, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, and Paul Stastny all had four or five points across the five games. Connor Hellebuyck — otherwise known as the Vezina Trophy nominee you’re most likely to have never heard of in your entire life — had a .924 save percentage and 1.93 goals-against average. The Jets have been somewhat quiet about it, but they’ve got great talent.

Winnipeg has the chance to put together a really special playoffs.

To a real degree, it already has. The Jets’ win in Game 1 at home was the first playoff win in the history of this current Jets franchise, which morphed out of the Atlanta Thrashers earlier this decade. A team called the Winnipeg Jets hadn’t won a playoff game since 1996, when the franchise that’s now the Coyotes was just getting ready to skip town. They’ve now gotten to celebrate a clincher on home ice, and look how their fans responded:

The Golden Knights, who swept the Kings in this round, are an amazing story. The bond that team has formed with Las Vegas in one season is rightfully talked up. But Vegas’ extraordinary year shouldn’t crowd out how cool it is that Winnipeg’s long-suffering hockey fans are finally getting to see a great team — their great team — mounting a playoff run.

The Jets and Knights can’t meet until the Western Conference Finals. Winnipeg would have to get past Nashville first, and Vegas would have to beat the formidable-looking Sharks. If it happened, that might just be the most heartwarming conference final in sports history.