Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bouncing back shows maturity

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The Winnipeg Jets have been routinely bashed for their inconsistency this season. Maybe it's time to start praising them for their resiliency.

It can't be stressed enough how little margin for error the Jets have right now, and despite continually getting themselves into tight spots, they are winning.

Just when they are pushed up against the wall and it appears they'll be forced to submit, the Jets find a way to wriggle out of a jam and get the victory they came for.

Two games in a row now, they've gassed two-goal leads in the third period and still come up with extra-time victories. They have been buckled but able to shake off the blows and then deliver a final one of their own.

On Thursday, the Jets didn't let the Carolina Hurricanes' tying goal scored in the last two minutes of regulation faze them. They went to the bench, took a slug of water and then took advantage of overtime to grab a 4-3 win.

They showed poise, mental toughness and a flare for the moment.

Too often in the past, the Jets have been delicate. Nice to look at in the sun but useless when the storm arrives. Recently, however, they've behaved like a team of maturity. Like a working man's weathered jacket, tough enough to keep away the wind and rain when durability and function outweighs fashion.

A loss would have been devastating and the Jets know this. It weighs on them, yet they don't let it rule the outcome. Winnipeg has figured out a way to be tournament-tough. In a word, resilient.

Teams don't get into the playoffs without being able to shrug off their own mistakes. Teams that do get to the post-season don't last long if they don't have short memories. Bad shift, bad period or bad game, it has to be flushed fast. The Jets are beginning to show this trait.

Both as a team and as individuals, this group has grown a thicker skin that can only serve them better moving forward, whether it's into the upcoming playoffs or down the road next year.

A recent five-game losing streak that saw them fall from the third seed in the conference to the 10th has now been answered with a five-game win streak. The ability to cope with stress and negative circumstances has allowed the Jets to win their way right back into the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Last season this group would never have recovered from that slide and their obituary would already have been written.

The Jets have matured and no longer wilt when adversity parks itself on their porch. It's a huge development. Maybe it's come too late to make a difference for this year.

Or perhaps it's arrived just in time.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2013 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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