The difference between the team that lost 3-1 to the New York Islanders last Tuesday and the team that just reeled off three-straight impressive wins is very easy to see. Following that disappointing effort earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Jets have managed to turn around their fortunes in a big way and it all culminated in tonight's 5-1 dismantling of the Colorado Avalanche. The newly-formed top-6 continued to produce at an astonishing rate, as Ladd's Little Wheeler combined for eight points tonight while Burmi's Wellwood Kane added another five. Not to be outdone, much maligned (at least by me) defender Dustin Byfuglien added two power-play helpers while leading the team in ice-time at with 21:56. The Jets have actually scored 12 goals in regulation time over the past three games, as well as one more if you count the shootout winner. The offensive cup runneth over!
The three-game winning streak has done wonders for the Jets as they attempt to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. With a record that now stands at 29-26-6 for 64 points, Winnipeg have jumped the Washington Capitals and are now tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for 8th spot in the conference. Toronto will officially hold the spot in the papers tomorrow as they have played less games, but remember that the Jets hold the season series over Toronto with a 2-1-1 record. Perhaps even better is the fact that the Jets are now only one point behind the Florida Panthers for 1st in the Southeast Division and the 3rd Seed in the playoffs. Home ice in the playoffs... Could you imagine?
A pessimist may look at the standings and point out the fact that both the Capitals and the Panthers each have three games in hand on the Jets, and the Maple Leafs have two games in hand. However, an optimist will point out that the Jets are now 6-4-0 in their last 10 and have six more games to go on their current home stand, while the Panthers have the best record in their last 10 out of all three of those teams at 5-5-0. Games in hand are meaningless unless you manage to put points on the board, right?
Recap and game thoughts after the jump.
1st Period: No Scoring
2nd Period: 1:45 WPG Evander Kane 22 (Alexander Burmistrov, Kyle Wellwood) 3:30 Bryan Little 17 (Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler) 10:42 COL Gabriel Landeskog 15 PP (Erik Johnson) 11:28 WPG Kyle Wellwood 12 (Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler)
3rd Period: 5:40 WPG Andrew Ladd 17 PP (Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien) 15:41 WPG Bryan Little 18 PP (Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien)
Shots: COL 32 WPG 25
3 Stars: 1) Blake Wheeler 2) Ondrej Pavelec 3) Andrew Ladd
Thoughts from the Tarmac:
- How good has this newly-minted top-6 been? Really good. In the past three games in which we scored 12 goals, only two assists came from players other then the top-6 or Buff (Tobias Enstrom and Mark Stuart each had a helper against the Wild the other night). Burmi has 2+2, Kane has 3+3, Wellwood has 1+3, Wheeler has 1+7, Ladd is 1+2, Little has 4+0 while Buff has five helpers. That is production from your top lines and top offensive defenseman right there.
- Ondrej Pavelec was stellar tonight, especially in the 2nd period when Avs put 20 pucks on net. Pavelec continues to be fantastic.
- Did the Jets score two power-play goals tonight? I do believe they did. The drought is over!
- One thing I've noticed of late is that the Jets have spent more time in front of the net and in the slot, which has led to a lot of their goals. It wasn't that long ago that they spent the majority of the game on the perimeter. Coach Noel obviously has them working on getting to the tough areas. Heck, even Nik Antropov got a penalty for Goaltender Interference (which was a weak call), but I applaud his effort to attack the net.
- Gabriel Landeskog is a fantastic hockey player already, and it's hard to believe that he's a rookie. Colorado has a beauty right there. With Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson as their core they could have something building out in the Rockies.
- The GST Line was at it again. Though only Chris Thorburn showed up on the scoresheet with his 7 penalty minutes, they were effective in their roles yet again. The 'GST' chants rained down on them again the 3rd period, and it was totally deserved.
- I thought that Eric Fehr looked okay in his return to the lineup. He looked to have some jump in his step, and the 4th line of Fehr, Antro and Tim Stapleton did just fine.
- Chevy had better think long and hard about re-signing some of our UFA's. Kyle Wellwood has paid for himself already this season 12-times over, and the fans won't be pleased if Tanner Glass and Jim Slater don't return to the GST Line. Tim Stapleton and Chris Mason also seem like great guys, too.
- Two down, six to go on this critical home stand, and the 2-0 record is what I like to see. Next up we go for the season sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, which when you think about it is pretty hilarious. Good things are happening with this Jets team right now, as I'm starting to get some positive vibes...
- GO JETS GO!