The Winnipeg Jets are a confident bunch. Al Montoya played spectacular against Chicago last night for the win and Ondrej Pavelec has been equally good with 5 wins in his last 6 games played. Besides the Calgary Flames, Phoenix Coyotes and the Edmonton Oilers, the Jets have beaten the power house Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, a hot Toronto Maple Leafs team and lost 1-0 to the San Jose Sharks in the last 7 games. That’s impressive.
Outgoing coach Claude Noel knew his team could turn it around but like the present coach Paul Maurice said, he’s been in Noel’s shoes twice before, getting let go during the season and what he went on to say is, you start focusing on the negatives after each game and the players stop listening after a while. Although I thought it wasn’t coaching that was the problem, since Maurice has been here he’s won 6 out of 7 games, an amazing start.
Maurice picked up on what a lot of us here in Winnipeg thought that this team had all the tools to make the playoffs. They had speed, size and great goaltending. The only problem is they’re young and young equal’s mistakes and that leads to inconsistency which leads to zero confidence. Jacob Trouba is 19, Mark Scheifele is 20, Evander Kane is 22, Zach Bogosian is 23, Bryan Little is 26, Ondrej Pavelec is 26 and Michael Frolik is 25. Besides the veterans 27 or older Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler, Tobias Enstrom, Mark Stuart and Olli Jokinen those 6 guys 26 and under are part of the nucleus and they’re maturing right before our eyes.
That’s exciting for this city. I believe if the Jets can make a run at the playoffs in the toughest division in the league; it’ll be a huge step forward and make for an exciting season next year when expectations will be huge.
Talent can only take you so far, you need confidence along with hard work to do great things. We’re going to see a few bumpy spots this season and if Maurice can get this team to learn from those bumpy spots this team will be hard to beat. With a league that’s so close when anyone can beat anyone on any given night, being hard to beat is an asset.
The Jets are physical, they block shots and are keeping the rebound shots to a minimum and they are a fast team with skill. That’s hard to play against.
Since Byfuglien has gone up on forward, Bogosian has really looked impressive on the blueline. There isn’t a guy I’d like to see become a force on defense more than Bogosian with the string of bad luck he’s had this year. He’s skating and moving the puck with authority. This team doesn’t have to make the big trade right now, they have a strong group and some great draft picks in the minors and in junior. Kevin Cheveldayoff will always be answering phone calls and look at making trades, but with such a young team, you just have to be patient. A trip to the playoffs cures everything.