U.S. Thanksgiving is generally regarded as the NHL’s measuring stick for where a team’s season is headed. If that trend holds true, the Winnipeg Jets have played themselves into the thick of the battle for Central Division bragging rights.
They’ll be on the eve of carving turkey and preparing for the onslaught of Black Friday sales south of the 49th when the Jets play their 18th game of the season Wednesday night at Tampa Bay.
And following a 4-1 homestand, preceded by back-to-back road wins at Arizona and St. Louis, the Jets find themselves breathing in what was supposed to be the rarefied air belonging solely to Dallas and Colorado.
Now we’re not quite at the quarter pole of this “82-furlong” endurance test, but Winnipeg fans had to be mightily impressed with the multiple positive responses from their favourite hockey club over the past week and a half.
Adam Lowry duking it out back-to-back with a pair of Predators in the 6-3 win over Nashville.
The entire team shaking off a tough second period with a refusal to quit over the final 20 minutes of a frustrating 3-2 loss to Dallas.
Answering that defeat by doubling up on New Jersey 6-3. A game that saw “Knuckle-aj” Ehlers emerge from a slow start with two goals and his seventh career fight, again versus an opponent a couple of divisions up in weight class in Devils defenceman Brenden Smith.
And then Saturday night’s workmanlike 5-2 win over Arizona — exactly what the Jets were looking for after an out-of-character performance in the 3-2 victory over Buffalo the night before.
Check the stats and you’ll see the Jets are top five, five on five, both in goals for and against. Vancouver is the only other team that can make that claim.
This somewhat unexpected 10-5-2 start has been a product of consistency, not smoke and mirrors, and certainly not a constant reliance on “Hellebuyckian” cleanups on aisle four.