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ANALYSIS: Jets’ reputation as a contender makes them a target for competition

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When the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators get together, they usually don’t disappoint, and last Tuesday night was no different.

What ultimately emerged from 60 minutes of rancour was a 2-1 Preds win and a squaring of the four-game season series at a game each. But what was more conspicuous to note was the warning salvo fired at the Jets’ cockpit.

Nashville, for their part, were hard to play against, a little nasty, and not backing down at any point. While they’re currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs, they certainly had their own reasons for getting the Jets’ attention — and by extension, for letting Winnipeg know there will be others around the league with the same posture and intent moving forward.

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You see, as one of the top teams in the Western Conference, Winnipeg’s reputation as a legitimate contender has swirled throughout the NHL, thus placing a firm target on their presence, be it home or away.

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As such, the Jets are no longer sneaking up on others — and likely haven’t for a while — but the ominous environment they faced Tuesday night in Music City should be heeded as to what the club can expect over the next 30-plus games.

After all, everyone wants to compare notes to a contender, whether they’re playoff-relevant or not. And the Jets need to know what’s ahead in a climate that will ask no quarter — and more precisely, provide none either.

If nothing else, Tuesday in Nashville should prepare Winnipeg for the challenge that awaits, and the type of games they should expect from pretty much every opponent between now and the end of the season.

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And the fact that the Jets and Preds will still meet twice more before game 82 lends credence to the fact that what we witnessed Tuesday night will be the norm for the rest of the season — which will leave no one disappointed.



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