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How will the Winnipeg Jets handle expectations this season?

Opening puck drop between the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, October 9, 2018.
Opening puck drop between the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, October 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan

Seven wins away.

That’s how close the Winnipeg Jets came to raising the Stanley Cup last year before they were knocked out in the Western Conference final by the Vegas Golden Knights.

With the Jets winning their home opener Tuesday night, 2-1 over the Los Angeles Kings, the team knows that fans have high expectations this year after coming so close to glory.

READ MORE: Where in the world do you cheer for the Winnipeg Jets?

And the team’s top centre says he’s ready for the challenge.

“That extra pressure is extra motivation,” said Jets forward Mark Scheifele.

“We know we have a good team in here, and those extra expectations push you to want more.”

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University of Manitoba sports psychologist Cal Botterill thinks the Jets are more than capable of handling the pressure and can produce positive results.

“That’s one of the effects of becoming a favourite,” Botterill said. “You have more confidence and you play better.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets season will be ‘long road back’ from 2018 Stanley cup run

As for the fans, Botterill knows that no matter how much the team downplays expectations, fans will always have the bar high.

“They’re going to do whatever they want to do — and I’m sure that’s what the players are thinking. But what [the players] have to do is stay with the process and keep getting better as a team.”

The captain says that’s exactly what the Jets plan to do this year.

WATCH: Winnipeg Jets superstar Patrik Laine excited for the coming season

Winnipeg Jets superstar Patrik Laine excited for the coming season
Winnipeg Jets superstar Patrik Laine excited for the coming season

“We just worry about what we can control and that’s every single game,” Wheeler said.

The next time the Jets see action will be Thursday night in Nashville against the Predators.

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