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This article was published 16/12/2019 (315 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When the Winnipeg Jets made a run to the Western Conference finals in 2018, they were nearly unstoppable at Bell MTS Place.
The Jets finished the regular season with a league-best 32-7-2 record at home.
"It was awesome," recalled Jets sniper Patrik Laine after Monday's practice. "It felt like we won every game we played here. Every team knew right away that when they came to this building it was going to be very tough to get points (here)."
While the Jets haven't enjoyed quite the same dominance on Portage Avenue this year, they're still a respectable 10-5-1 in games played in their own backyard. But with Sunday's 7-3 thrashing over the Philadelphia Flyers extending their home winning streak to five games, this team might be inching closer to where they once were. In their past 10 contests in Winnipeg, the Jets are 8-1-1.
"There's definitely an air of confidence at home, for sure," said Jets forward Andrew Copp. "You gotta pile up points as quickly as possible. Having that home-ice advantage and what comes with that is a good crowd and confidence walking into the building that you can, and maybe even should win every home game. It's a good feeling."
"It felt like we won every game we played here. Every team knew right away that when they came to this building it was going to be very tough to get points (here)." — Patrik Laine on the Jets 32-7-2 home record during the 2017-2018 season
It would be hard to not feel confident with the way the Jets have been scoring lately. In their last five home matchups, the Jets have outscored their opponents 24-10. Leading the charge offensively has been forwards Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele who are both riding six-game scoring streaks. Connor has four goals and six assists during that stretch and Scheifele has six goals and five assists. Scheifele had three points on Sunday which was his team-leading ninth multi-point game of the season.
"The way we're playing right now, we're playing as five guys on the ice. The whole team is," said Nikolaj Ehlers who has 14 goals and 11 helpers in 33 games this season. "And when you do that, you're connected on the ice, you're connected off the ice, on the bench, and you're talking and you're figuring out small details that are happening in the game. We're working for each other and I think that's a huge key in general."
The Jets already have five players (Scheifele, Connor, Laine, Blake Wheeler and Ehlers) with 25 or more points. The Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals are the only other teams that can also say that. Head coach Paul Maurice has a theory as to why his team has had so much success on offence.
"They're different. We got three lines... and all three of them are different. Mark Scheifele's line will pass more, see more. You've got to be aware of the back door. You've got to be aware of those tight plays when they get it off their stick. They find holes to make plays," Maurice said.
"And then what you saw with Blake Wheeler's line when those guys are going, that's almost all speed. That pulls people off. When Nikki's got the puck and you know Wheeler and Roslovic are coming off the other side of the ice, the D are just going to give you some ice so they're dynamic there. And then Lowry's line is a completely physical line. One of the things that's happening is we have a real difference in style of the three lines and that kind of changes the flow of the game, too, but for the other team. They don't see the same thing coming off the bench all the time. There's a constant adjustment as to how you play those guys."
It also doesn't hurt when you can get some lucky bounces here and there. Laine's goal on Sunday likely won't make it into his career highlight reel. Laine had a pass intended for Scheifele bounce off of Flyers defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere's skate and find it's way into the back of the net to make it a 6-1 game. But hey, according to Laine, a goal's a goal. He'll gladly take it however he can get it.
"Yeah that's just the way it is sometimes. You've gotta earn those bounces and when you do things right and you're playing good hockey, you're getting those bounces. Against Detroit in Detroit (a 5-2 Jets loss), we were not getting the bounces. A couple own goals and tough bounces, but now, it's bouncing our way and we definitely earned it (Sunday)."
But whether or not Lady Luck is on their side, Maurice put it best when asked about their elite scoring.
"This is going to sound silly but they're all good players," he said. "All of them can be dynamic in their game and be a bit of a game-changer."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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