July 4, 2015


Record: 43 – 26 – 13

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Winnipeg Jets

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Maurice provides Jets fuel

Eric O'Dell scores the Jets second goal on Phoenix Coyotes' goaltender Mike Smith.
Jets forward Michael Frolik takes a seat on top of Phoenix Coyotes' goalie Mike Smith during the second period of the Jets' 5-1 victory of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Winnipeg Jets Devin Setoguchi celebrates his third-period goal against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Coyotes Derek Morris fights Jets captain Andrew Ladd.
Jets forward Blake Wheeler lays the body on Phoenix Coyotes David Moss.
Coyotes Martin Hanzal (left) gives Winnipeg Jets' Bryan Little a forearm to the face.
Jets new head coach Paul Maurice talks to Zach Bogosian.
Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien crashes the Phoenix net and Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who gives Byfuglien a shot in the face.
Jets Mark Scheifele (left), Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn (right) celebrate Wheeler's goal.
Olli Jokinen celebrates with Dustin Byfuglien after scoring in the first period.
Phoenix opens the scoring against the Jets.
Winnipeg Jets' Eric O'Dell (58) and Anthony Peluso (14) check Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Ribeiro over the boards.
Eric O'Dell celebrates after scoring in the first period.
Eric O'Dell scores the Jets second goal on Phoenix Coyotes' goaltender Mike Smith. - John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
Jets forward Michael Frolik takes a seat on top of Phoenix Coyotes' goalie Mike Smith during the second period of the Jets' 5-1 victory of the Phoenix Coyotes. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Jets Devin Setoguchi celebrates his third-period goal against the Phoenix Coyotes. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Coyotes Derek Morris fights Jets captain Andrew Ladd. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Jets forward Blake Wheeler lays the body on Phoenix Coyotes David Moss. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Coyotes Martin Hanzal (left) gives Winnipeg Jets' Bryan Little a forearm to the face. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Jets new head coach Paul Maurice talks to Zach Bogosian. - John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien crashes the Phoenix net and Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who gives Byfuglien a shot in the face. - TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Jets Mark Scheifele (left), Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn (right) celebrate Wheeler's goal. - WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Olli Jokinen celebrates with Dustin Byfuglien after scoring in the first period. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Phoenix opens the scoring against the Jets. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Jets' Eric O'Dell (58) and Anthony Peluso (14) check Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Ribeiro over the boards. - John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
Eric O'Dell celebrates after scoring in the first period. - Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press

It would be grossly premature, of course, to suggest this proves it really was Claude Noel’s fault all along.

But it is also undeniable that the Winnipeg Jets who took to the ice at the MTS Centre Monday night in head coach Paul Maurice’s Winnipeg debut demonstrated an enthusiasm and work ethic under their new boss that were both in short supply under Noel this month — and absent entirely for the past week.

Coyotes Derek Morris fights Jets captain Andrew Ladd.

TREVOR HAGAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Coyotes Derek Morris fights Jets captain Andrew Ladd.

Maybe it was the message Noel’s firing on Sunday sent — no one’s job on this team is safe anymore. Maybe it was the collective shame that this team’s woeful underperformance had cost a good man his job. Maybe it was just the shock that this is what it had finally come to.

But whatever it was, the Jets team on display in a 5-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes looked a lot like the team Noel steadfastly maintained all season this group could be, but so seldom actually was.

They won the battles in the corners, played solidly in their own end, took advantage of their offensive opportunities and got the kind of confident goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec that comes when you actually give the poor guy a little support.

Should you order ticker tape this morning for the championship parade down Portage Avenue? Hardly. While this Jets team looked immeasurably better than they did in woeful losses last week to Columbus and Tampa Bay, it is also a cold, hard fact that Monday night’s heroics came against a Coyotes team that limped into Winnipeg having lost four of their previous five games and who looked every bit like a struggling team last night, getting outshot 24-8 at one point in the second period.

Still, there’s life once again in what was beginning to resemble a corpse in recent weeks. And where there’s life, there’s hope.

"It’s huge. Everyone can kind of take a breath and get back to work," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said last night. "It was a tough time — a five-game winless streak. And everyone in here wanted to get back on track, but it didn’t seem like anything was going right.

"So nice to get a win and get some excitement back in this room."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

 

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