Jets have much to prove in Thursday Ranger game
Jets need to stay aggressive to hold onto playoff spot
Jeff Hamilton CBC News
Posted: Mar 14, 2013 12:24 PM CT
Last Updated: Mar 14, 2013 12:22 PM CT
The expression “on paper” can be deceiving.
On paper, the Winnipeg Jets had been written off as bottom feeders in the NHL.
On paper, their forwards lack talent, the defence isn’t strong enough and the goaltending too mediocre to be considered a threat by opposing teams.
In both years since the team arrived in Winnipeg, respected league analysts have ranked the Jets a long shot to reach the postseason.
It would be an easy out for the Jets to fall victim to these low expectations.
But for this year’s team -- who currently sit tied for the final playoff spot in the east with the Rangers -- these excuses are as thin as the paper the roster is printed on.
And the Jets know it’s going to take an effort from every guy in the locker room to silence the critics and give Winnipeg fans their first playoff birth in 17 years.
“When you’re buying in, wanting to put it on the line for each other and doing those little things that don’t show up on the score sheet, that’s how you get over the hump and become a winning team,” said Jets forward Blake Wheeler following a convincing 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs Tuesday night.
“That’s where we’re trying to go, and I think we’re starting to realize that we have it in this room if we do things the right way.”
Tuesday’s contest was the Jets first full, 60-minute effort this season. Head coach Claude Noel labeled it his team’s best home game this year.
“When you play physical its raises the emotional level of your team, and I think it raises the intensity,” opined Noel on his team’s effort.
First period fights from Chris Thorburn and captain Andrew Ladd were a quick reminder to the Jets’ bench they were in a battle.
And killing off a second period Leafs 5-on-3 power-play lasting close to two minutes inspired a team enough to put the icing on the cake against a team higher in the standings.
“It was a big point in the game when we had a big penalty kill,” said Noel. “I thought we played a pretty solid sixty minutes all the way through.”
Tuesday showcased a team Jets fans aren’t used to seeing. The Jets looked like a playoff team. They looked motivated.
But as much as the increased level of intensity was a step forward for the Jets, it was also predictable.
On paper, the Leafs are the second most penalized team in the league. They lead the NHL in fighting majors with 27 in as many games.
Bottom line: It’s easy to hate a team like the Leafs. It’s easy to get motivated.
The real test for the Jets will be Thursday night when they welcome the New York Rangers to the MTS Centre.
The Rangers style of play is a stark contrast to that of the Leafs.
They’re the second least penalized team in the league, with only five players having more than 10 penalty minutes.
Once seen as a gritty, hard-working club, star-caliber players like Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik are what define that team now.
Thursday’s game offers the Jets a chance to define the kind of team they want to be in the final stretch.
It will give them the opportunity to climb another game above .500 and get closer to getting over that bump.
The playoffs are a real possibility for this club, but they need to find reasons to be motivated every night if they hope to be playing come spring.
The good news is the Jets are coming off their highest offensive output of the season against the Leafs.
They’re 1-0 against the Rangers this year, and Nik Antropov appears to be out of his slump, scoring five points in the past three games.
On paper, things appear to be lining up nicely.
But as we know, on paper can be deceiving.
Latest Manitoba News Headlines
- B.C. Lions sign quarterback Joey Elliott
- The B.C. Lions on Friday announced the signing of free agent quarterback Joey Elliott, who spent the past three seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. more »
- Doors Open Winnipeg offers access to architectural gems
- The 10th annual Doors Open Winnipeg, an initiative of Heritage Winnipeg, opens the doors of more than 80 buildings and sites around the city this weekend. more »
- Winnipeg couple fights schizophrenia challenges together
- Winnipeggers Sean and Doris Miller have been married for 14 years, but reaching that anniversary has been a feat in itself since Sean was diagnosed with schizophrenia. more »
- Manitoba ex-MPs 'vindicated' with robocalls ruling
- Former Manitoba MPs Jim Maloway and Anita Neville applaud a Federal Court ruling that finds fraud occurred in the 2011 election but are saddened the judge stopped short of overturning the results in six ridings. more »
Top News Headlines
- Royal Bank pledges not to outsource jobs for cash savings
- Royal Bank has promised it will never outsource a Canadian job to a foreign worker solely to save money. more »
- Washington police blame bridge collapse on Alberta trucker
- Washington State police say an Alberta trucker was responsible for hitting a steel beam precipitating a bridge collapse on one of the busiest routes in the American northwest. more »
- Man accused of killing child in patio crash granted bail
- Emotions ran high in a packed Edmonton courthouse Friday as Richard Suter, accused of causing a crash into a restaurant patio that killed a young boy, was granted bail. more »
- Senators' unlikely playoff run ends in Game 5 disappointment
- The Ottawa Senators can't hang their heads after a 6-2 loss in Game 5 ended their improbable run to the second round of the NHL playoffs, but questions abound whether their 40-year-old captain will hang up his skates. more »
- Winnipeg police raid houses on Home Street
- Manitoba grandparents prep for provincial bodybuilding contest
- Doctor found guilty in sex assault on paralyzed teen
- Winnipeg couple fights schizophrenia challenges together
- Man breaks into Wellington Crescent home while girl sleeps
- Massive church service to test Bomber’s parking plan
- Winnipeg gets first urban reserve
- Teenage girl charged in Pauingassi man's death
- Early summer bad time for crashes, Manitoba RCMP say