MONTREAL – No one is quite sure what is in the concoction, but the Winnipeg Jets are gulping down the Paul Maurice Kool-Aid.
The Jets improved to 8-2 under their new head coach Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Winnipeg is now 27-25-5 and with 59 points has moved into a tie with Nashville and Dallas and is four back of Vancouver for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
"We feel that we’ve made some pretty big strides in some small areas," said Maurice after the game. "We’ve made big gains in small areas. There’s still a lot to cover. But I don’t want to give you the impression these guys don’t know anything, it’s more we’re going to do it this way.
"It’s what we want our team to look like, and I’m talking about the players and the coaches. Define what the Winnipeg Jets’ game is… And that’s going to take a little bit of time to do."
Asked if the 8-2 record means the club is ahead of the curve, Maurice added:
"This is going sound really funny, but it’s almost insignificant for what we’re trying to do. It wouldn’t change the path is on if our record was different.
"We had two goals here: make the playoffs but, more importantly, build a foundation so that we all understand the game we play to win."
The Jets got goals from Toby Enstrom and Michael Frolik – Brian Gionta countered for Montreal – and some outstanding netminding from Al Montoya, who kicked out 30 of the 31 shots he faced.
"This is big for us," said Montoya. "To come into a building like this… we knew they played yesterday (a 2-1 OT loss to Tampa) so we had to jump on them in the first period. Give it all to the guys: we battled. We might not have had it all night, but we put it together when we had to."
This is the first of a four-game road trip for the Jets, who were scheduled to charter out right after the game for Raleigh, N.C. Winnipeg faces the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday before stops in Washington Thursday and St. Louis Saturday.