Jets still gaining altitude

We may soon be able to use that P-word not uttered since 1996


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They have not wilted. No fade and no quit. And if they can manage to get into the post-season, the Winnipeg Jets just might prove to be a tough out.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/03/2015 (2994 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They have not wilted. No fade and no quit. And if they can manage to get into the post-season, the Winnipeg Jets just might prove to be a tough out.

With each passing day, the Jets appear to be getting stronger. They’ve won six of seven, they’re getting brilliant goaltending and, little by little, they’re getting healthy.

After 75 games, it appears they will need three more wins to achieve their first goal. After that, well, they say anything can happen.

JOHN WOODS / The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Jets
JOHN WOODS / The Canadian Press Winnipeg Jets' Jiri Tlusty (91), Jim Slater (19), Dustin Byfuglien (33) and Adam Pardy (2) celebrate Byfuglien's goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Dustin Tokarski (35) during first period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday.

There’s reason to believe with the way the Jets are constructed, this won’t be a team that reaches the playoffs only to be swept away in short order.

Big, fast and willing to bang, the Jets will be inexperienced but built with some of the characteristics needed to win in the post-season.

Their offence comes from hard work and not flash. The blue-line has size and mobility. And right now, at this most crucial of junctures, they are getting outstanding goaltending.

Last night’s 5-2 bouncing of the visiting Montreal Canadiens gave the Jets 90 points on the season. They’re knocking at the door. Soon they’ll be pounding at the door. And maybe, just maybe, in the immortal but slightly sanitized words of Bum Phillips, they’ll kick the son of a gun in.

The return of all-star defenceman Dustin Byfuglien gave the Jets depth on the blue-line and soon they’ll be getting No. 1 centre Bryan Little and power-play genius Mathieu Perreault back in the lineup. An influx of refreshed talent just as one season ends and another harkens.

They are deep down the middle with youngsters Adam Lowry and Mark Scheifele entering a new stage of their careers. The additions of Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak gives the Jets balance and four lines coach Paul Maurice can use.

The resurgence of goalie Ondrej Pavelec can’t be overstated. He stole Thursday’s game, providing the Jets with elite-calibre goaltending. He’s been kicked around in this space and in this town. But he’s grown as a man and a player ignoring the nattering while working on his game and waiting for his chance. It’s arrived and he’s taken it.

Give Pavelec his due and credit. He refused to pack it in over the adversity of first, losing his No. 1 job and secondly, letting in a most embarrassing goal. He’s been Winnipeg’s best player over the last 11 days. He’s been near perfect and undefeated in that stretch. When his team needed him most, Pavelec delivered.

There’s still work to do to reach the playoffs, and with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers coming up next, there very likely will be more angst in the coming days.

Winnipeg’s hold on a playoff berth is still shaky. But winning cures everything, does it not? And that’s mostly what the Jets are doing these days.

Winnipeggers, fans and media alike, watch the Jets so closely. The picture gets small at times. All we see are the warts when it’s going rough and now when they’re on the precipice it’s hard to shake some of the old notions.

They’ve grown. That’s clear enough. But how far? Are the Winnipeg Jets really a playoff team? Can you put your faith in them and not worry about your heart being stomped on in Game 82 or before?

Well, that’s not decided yet. You’ll have to choose how much you want to invest.

But maybe you might want to buy now because this stock has some momentum and it’s climbing.

How high?

That will be the fun part, getting on for the ride and seeing where it goes.

Enjoy the moment, Jets fans. The next two weeks will be wild and up and down.

But the payoff? The word we haven’t used with real meaning since 1996. Playoffs.

Twitter: @garylawless


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