Jets blog: Getting back in the win column is a start
Let's see what Winnipeg can pull together over the next week, writes Adam Wazny
It remains to be seen if the Winnipeg Jets have turned things around — how they play in the next few games will determine that.
But for a brief moment Wednesday evening, right around the time the game ended with the home side up 4-1 on the scoreboard, a feeling of calm and relief found the extended Jets community.
Yes, it's been a November to forget if you follow the local hockey concern. Six-game losing streaks tend to make people lose their minds, it seems.
Before everyone gathers at Portage and Main to celebrate the refreshing taste of winning, take a step back and consider what happened Wednesday.
The Jets, back in comfortable surroundings once again, took on a Vancouver Canucks squad that was playing the seventh game of a monster seven-game road trip, and sliding down the power rankings faster than Winnipeg was.
The Canucks have seven wins in 20 games (7-7-6) and are clearly short a few players to be considered a threat come this spring. Winnipeg (9-9-2) earns the two points in the standings and gets some good feeling back in their collective legs, but how much praise does one dish out for beating a team that looked physically and mentally exhausted?
Let's see what Winnipeg can pull together over the next week or so before any declarations that "the Jets are back" are shouted from the rooftops.
The long losing streak that has pushed the Jets from a playoff position into chase mode in the Central Division wasn't the only slump that came to a conclusion Wednesday.
The new line of Mark Scheifele, Drew Stafford and Mathieu Perreault was Winnipeg's best line, and its invention breathed some new life into the first two names on that aforementioned list.
Scheifele's first-period goal to open the scoring — only the fifth time the Jets have found the first goal in a game — snapped a six-game goalless drought. How dry have things been for the Jets No. 2 centre lately? Through those half-dozen games, Scheifele failed to register a point.
That goal must have felt like a waterfall pouring over him.
Scheifele would add his second of the game late in the third period.
Also thirsty for something wet has been Stafford, who was mired in his own goalless drought. The veteran, re-signed last summer for the exact purpose of providing secondary scoring, was suffering through an 11-game drought before lifting a backhand over Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller in the second period.
Players always say they don't think about slumps and they just try to do the same thing night in and night out. Keep the routine. Stay focused.
The dramatic fashion in which Stafford threw his head up and reached his arms to the heavens under the scream of the MTS Centre goal horn seemed to suggest his lack of contribution was a weight lifted off his shoulders.
Stafford would later add an empty-net goal to close out the scoring.
Also having a bounce-back game of sorts — or maybe it should just be called a solid outing after a series of sub-par performances — was Ondrej Pavelec.
The Jets goaltender, struggling with a .849 save percentage in his last four appearances, stopped 29 of 30 shots and more importantly, made a few early stops (including one on a Jannik Hansen breakaway) to ensure his club didn't start off on the wrong foot again.
Getting a big save when they need a big save has been an area of worry for the Jets this season. What Pavelec showed Wednesday night was what can happen if that early big save does come.
Winnipeg didn't play a perfect game against the Canucks, but they did play well enough to wear down a weary team when it mattered the most.
It's a good place to start.
The Jets host the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night.