It’s a MADHOUSE

The MTS Centre rocks now -- imagine what it would be like if Jets make playoffs

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Andrew LADD has hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head twice. And once a guy slurps champagne from the cherished ol' mug, he wants at least the shot to do it again.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/03/2015 (2827 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Andrew LADD has hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head twice. And once a guy slurps champagne from the cherished ol’ mug, he wants at least the shot to do it again.

And again. And again.

But while it’s that hunger to return — and the burning desire for the dozen or so teammates who have yet to suit up for a single playoff game — that is driving the club’s charge for a spot in the tournament, another factor is also in play.

CP Winnipeg Jets salute the fans after giving them their first win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Monday, October 17, 2011. The Jets won 2-1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Just how nuts this town would become if it were to play host to Stanley Cup playoff contests again for the first time since 1996 and Jets 1.0.

“You’re always thinking about playoffs and for me that’s always been on my mind: What would it be like to feel that excitement in the building for a playoff game in general, let alone what it would feel like here,” said Ladd after practice Saturday.

“For me, it’s something you want to get for guys who haven’t had a chance to taste that. It gives you that much more motivation to get back there each and every year.”

We bring this up today given the Jets run at the MTS Centre of late, a 7-1-2 record that has produced the most points over a 10-game stretch since an 8-2-0 run from Nov. 14 to Dec. 15, 2011 — the first year of the team’s return. The Jets still have work to do to be considered a dominant home side — heading into Saturday’s NHL action they ranked just 18th in home points — but their ability to establish an identity has caught the eye of those around the league.

Said St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock to reporters in Edmonton Friday, one day after edging the Jets in a shootout: “They’ve got some really nice pieces there, boy. Andrew Ladd is really driving the bus right now. Really pushing hard. And it’s such a great atmosphere in that building. Oh my God.”

Winnipeg Jets' fans celebrate after a strong second period of NHL hockey action against the Philadelphia Flyers at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Saturday, April 6, 2013. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

“We’ve come out with better efforts,” added Ladd, of the recent home run. “I don’t know if it means anything, but we’ve come out better and had better jump. Obviously, if we’re physical and playing that way, it gets our crowd into it and we can feed off that energy. That’s something you always want to do at home and take advantage of, especially right now with the rest (between games) that we’re getting.”

Drew Stafford, as you may know, is new to this town. He’d been here before as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, but as a newcomer sees a change with his new compadres.

“A lot of guys in this room have been through some tough times,” said Stafford. “But there’s been a lot of changes over the last little while with coaching changes and player changes.

“As a visitor coming in here to play we always knew this was a loud building. The fans here, they love their Jets. You could obviously sense that as a visitor. As a team, I sense the way the Jets have been playing recently is different than in the past. They play a heavier, faster game. They might get into a little penalty trouble with the way they play… it’s a physical, in your face, up-tempo type of game.

“Now playing for them and being a part of this and having the fans cheer for you, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot better than being screamed at.”

Winnipeg Jets fan has fun during second period play against the Florida Panthers at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg Tuesday night � The Jets won 3-2 in OT-See Ed Tait, Tim Campbell stories- February 05, 2013 (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

And Stafford, just like his teammates, can only imagine what the MTS Centre would be like in the playoffs.

“Home-ice advantage has its perks, not just in hockey,” he said. “Look at the Seattle Seahawks and how it works for them in football.

“The Jets, right now we’re in the hunt. Some people might view us as underdogs, but we’re going to compete with everybody. With the fans behind us, we’re going to make it tough for teams to come in here and play.”

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

CP Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) salutes his fans after scoring against the Florida Panthers during second period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 11, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
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