Jets still just little ducklings

Have some growing to do before they are legit contenders

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The Winnipeg Jets are getting a lesson in playoff hockey. A lesson that hurts but one that is a necessary right of passage nonetheless.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/04/2015 (2780 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Jets are getting a lesson in playoff hockey. A lesson that hurts but one that is a necessary right of passage nonetheless.

The Anaheim Ducks waver a bit here and there but they finish. The Jets, through three games in which they have led in the third period, do not.

The Ducks took a 3-0 lead in this first round Stanley Cup series and now have the opportunity to finish the Jets season on Wednesday night.

John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) gets the check on Anaheim Ducks' Francois Beauchemin (23) during first period NHL game 3 playoff action in Winnipeg.

All that noise and all that white eventually drifted down to the ice and melted into a hockey game. A game at which the Ducks are proving they are better.

Sure, there’s promise and lots of good in what we’ve seen from the Jets this season but it’s not enough against a team like the Ducks. They are calm, poised and deadly. They execute.

The Jets have pluck but they don’t have the ability to close out these games with cold and cruel efficiency.

Now this was more than just a hockey game. It was a moment in Manitoba sports lore. The return of Stanley Cup playoff hockey to this province and city and despite the result it will provide a lasting memory.

Nineteen years in the making, this was a moment the entire nation wanted to look in on. One national reporter said midway through the second period, “the people under the most pressure here were the fans. A lot was expected of them. They delivered.”

And you did. It was loud and white and fun before eventually disappointing. Did you get your money’s worth? Did the wait make it more memorable? Can you speak this morning? Are you ready to do it again on Wednesday night?

The “Go Jets Go” chanting started long before the team had stepped on to the ice. It built to a dangerous volume by the time anthem singer Stacey Nattrass stepped on to the ice in a white Jets jersey and matching pants. She was joined by a full house of Winnipeggers dressed in white and they helped her sing O Canada before slipping right back into “Go Jets Go.”

Back and forth went the game and the Jets allowed the visiting Anaheim Ducks to continue their trend of late period goals including a third period marker by veteran Ryan Kesler which forced overtime.

Then, in the extra frame, Ducks centre Rickard Rakell poked a hole in the joy of this Winnipeg night with a winner for the visitors.

The crowd went immediately silent. Then began to turn to the aisles to climb out of the bowl and turn homeward. But some weren’t quite ready to let the night go and started up on “Go Jets Go” once more.

It didn’t last long and it wasn’t as loud as the earlier versions. But it still held glimpse of hope. The Jets still have that and today they’ll begin the process of trying to pick themselves up to try and begin the impossible.

Down 3-0 to a team that has exposed their flaws and played with the benefit of experience, the Jets only have hope right now.

They won’t be interested in talk of lessons learned today. But for a franchise that hasn’t been in the post-season since 2007, this has been a glass of cold water in the face.

As hard as it is to get in to the Stanley Cup tournament, advancing is moreso. The Jets have work to do. Lots to get back into this series but more realistically, lots to become the type of team they want to be. A team like the Ducks.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

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