The Winnipeg Jets’ longest losing streak of the season came to an end Saturday night in front of the fourth sellout crowd of the current campaign at Canada Life Centre.
Now is when we find out if this team can get back on track and challenge Dallas and Colorado the rest of the way for bragging rights in the Central.
We won’t get that answer Wednesday night when the Jets finish off this quick homestand, because a win over visiting San Jose should be expected, and for a couple of reasons.
Yes, the Sharks have played Winnipeg tough in a couple of split 2-1 decisions back in mid-December and early January. And yes, San Jose was on a roll going into the all-star break with wins over the Rangers and LA Kings as part of a 4-1-1 run.
But the Sharks are 31st in a 32 team league. And Wednesday’s visit to downtown Winnipeg will be their first game in two weeks.
How the Jets play in that game will matter more than the anticipated result — especially with the three games that follow.
Saturday night, the Jets are in Vancouver to face the league-leading Canucks for the first time this season. A week from Monday, they’re in Calgary against a Flames team that seems to have found itself after trading away one of their best players.
And then it’s back home the very next night to host Minnesota, who gave Winnipeg all it could handle in a late December home and home series, with some pretty significant players missing, like Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello and Jonas Brodin, who are back playing again.
It has been a while since the Jets played the kind of “complete” game befitting of a legitimate playoff contender.
And as head coach Rick Bowness and several of his players made it abundantly clear, the streak-busting victory over Pittsburgh didn’t make that grade.
But it was an important building block. And we’ll see, over this next stretch, if it’s one the Winnipeg Jets can keep adding to.