Now 6-1-0 under new coach Paul Maurice, the Winnipeg Jets are getting hard to ignore. Could this just be a timely win streak? Given the victories Winnipeg is amassing and the manner in which the Jets are getting them, it's tough to chalk it up to mere circumstance. And a team that used to look good only on paper is all of a sudden living up to its promise.
Not only are the Jets getting great performances from a wide variety of players, but they're beating good teams at tough times and not giving up when they get down a goal. In fact, the Jets have only scored first twice in Maurice's seven games behind the bench – not that it has mattered.
Last night was the perfect example. The Chicago Blackhawks are the quintessential "beat us and you've got something" team. Two-time Stanley Cup champs in the past four seasons, the Hawks will once again be contenders for the crown and provide a difficult roster to beat. Chicago dominated Winnipeg when it came to shots on net and the Blackhawks even scored first.
But the Jets knocked them off 3-1, with Blake Wheeler and Al Montoya leading the charge. When the Jets handed Anaheim its first regulation home loss last week, it was Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec doing the damage after Cam Fowler opened the scoring for the Ducks.
Will Winnipeg make the playoffs? Probably not. The Jets are still seven points out of the wild card race in the West, with two other teams ahead of them. This will likely be one of those 'tweener' years where they won't get a super-high draft pick and won't get any post-season experience, but the early hole dug by the team was simply too deep.
Luckily, the Jets now see what their assets can do when properly cajoled; this is not a team in need of a tear-down. With continued growth from youngsters Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba, who knows what the team can accomplish next season?