The Winnipeg Jets lineup may be injury-riddled and reconfigured, but the remaining regulars and reinforcements have been resilient and resolved to continue answering the challenge.
Following a week when veterans Blake Wheeler and Nate Schmidt were added to a list of walking wounded that already included Nikolaj Ehlers, Mason Appleton, Saku Maenalanen, and Logan Stanley, all the Jets did was shrug their collective shoulders, add Karson Khulman off waivers, re-introduce Kyle Capobianco to the mix, and promptly go out and skate to an impressive 5-1 win in Vancouver on Saturday.
Now they did run out of gas Sunday night in Seattle, but while any loss comes with a certain level of disappointment, any concern should be balanced with that defeat coming in a “seventh game in 11 nights” scenario.
How long Rick Bowness, the coaching staff, and the players themselves can weather the storm — one that is smack dab in the middle of the busiest stretch of the schedule — is a question still to be answered.
But since this “play every other day” routine began in mid-November, Winnipeg has put together an 11-6 record to keep pace with the Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights — and now the surging Minnesota Wild — in the battle to be best in the West.
The internal belief there is sufficient organizational depth to “hold the fort,” has certainly passed the test thus far.
That’s why Kevin Cheveldayoff has resisted the temptation to react too hastily by making a trade now that could impact later on the Jets’ ability to make a more informed addition around the deadline, once they have a better handle on what it is they really need.
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But there are 15 to 20 games to go before the first patients start to get discharged from Jets General, and there is finally relief from this dizzying schedule with the All-Star and players’ break beginning in late January.
It will truly be something if Winnipeg can match or come close to the same level of success over these next five-and-a-half weeks, that they have put together over this past month or so.