When the Jets landed back in Winnipeg after departing Atlanta, folks in town were elated. I’m not even sure there’s a word to describe the energy and passion with which NHL hockey was re-embraced. Trying to get season tickets there now is like putting your name on the waiting list for season seats at Lambeau in Green Bay, which is to say utterly futile.

And when the puck dropped on opening night, the crowd went wild from start to finish. But those of us who weren’t there had an alarming thought: what if this team is as god-awful horrible as they appeared? While fans would still show up in droves, the city had been without hockey for 15 years – they deserved better, and it sure looked like the team had laughingstock potential.

After eight games, they came out on top only twice. They were in last. We were already hearing locals say ”oh well, bad hockey is better than no hockey.” And while they were right, it was kind of awkward to watch.

But, after beating the NHL’s top team last night in the Minnesota Wild, they’ve climbed to 10th place in the East with 32 points, one point out of eighth, and a mere two points out of seventh. They’re ahead of the Washington Capitals by a point right now. They’ve won five of their last six games, including take-downs of Bruins, Wild, Coyotes and Devils. After their putrid start, they suddenly find themselves in the mix.

Center Bryan Little has caught fire, tallying 15 points over his past 13 games, including nine goals (he’s scored in four straight games). Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is over 20 points. Nobody has jaw-dropping numbers, but they do have 10 players with at least 10 points, which is nothing to sneeze at depth-wise. And, Ondrej Pavelec has stepped his game up - he got shelled in Detroit, but outside of that game he’s only given up four goals in the four previous other games.

We’ve still got a long way to go to see if they can sustain this momentum, but I think they’re as capable or better than a couple of the teams battling for a playoff spot in the East (apologies, but I’m looking at you, Ottawa).

They’ve scrapped back a long way. Whatever happens, the fans in Winnipeg aren’t being forced to put on a fake smily face anymore. Those things are real. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Jets are thinking playoffs, and I kinda like their chances.

Comments (12)

  1. STOP LOOKING AT US!!! hehe

    now that Michalek is maybe out of it (about 20% of our goal scoring), I would imagine we will slip down the standings…

  2. On 12/14/2010, the Thrashers were in 5th place in the East. on 12/19, they had moved to 2nd. Finished the season 12th. Seen this before.

    • thats the fanless thrashers, this is Jet Nation, packed house every night. very different.

      • I’m sure that the fans’ passing ability and defensive discipline are doing wonders for the Jets right now.

        • Hey nightfly, stfu. The team is improving game after game even if its a small improvement it’s better than nothing. So take your remarks somewhere else. btch.

  3. This was typical of the ATL Thrashers. While they have been playing well, I would wait until late January to make any predictions about this team. In the past it was common for this team to start out hot and swoon after the holidays. I know people will say this isn’t the same team as the thrashers but, outside of a few minor signings it’s the same team that left ATL last year. That team didn’t make the play offs.

    • again, trashers had no support from fans…wait, what fans?

      • while the fans might make a difference, i don’t think they will totally change a team that went from 2nd to 12th last year and watch them somehow turn into superstars. Intangibles like that are definitely in hockey, but I think they manifest themselves on the ice in more discreet ways.

  4. Thrashers had a lot of potential in their players but they didn’t have the team culture and work ethic to put in the effort every night, which is why Ramsay wasn’t retained. Too early to say if Noel has been able to change that but we’ll see how they do over the next couple months. The thing about the East this year is there are only 4 teams that are actually any good (Philly, Boston, Rangers, Pens). I think Buffalo and Washington will eventually turn it around and start playing at the level they should be but the 7th and 8th spots are completely up for grabs.

  5. I’m so proud of the Winnipeg Jets. I love how loud the fans are. The team appreciates it as well.
    “the Jets are thinking playoffs, and I kinda like their chances.”<- I like this! ha ha
    Go! Jets! Go!

  6. The most impressive part about this run the Jets are on is that they’re doing it without Tobias Enstrom. Charlie Huddy has turned Bogosian into a responsible, minute-eating defender and Evander Kane is finding his scoring touch.

    Those are the biggest differences I see from last year’s Thrashers and they shouldn’t be overlooked. Now if they can only figure out how to play on the road…

  7. Zzzzzzz. Zzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzz.

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