Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Jets Return Home After Confidence Building Road Trip
Not only did Bryan Little finally bulge the twine or Ondrej Pavelec collect his first shutout, but the Winnipeg Jets were able to have a winning record on the road trip (3-2-2) and collect eight out of a possible 14 points.
Another positive from the Jets two week road trip are the emergence of Mark Flood as he fills in for the indefinitely injured Tobias Enstrom.
It seems that once Ron Hainsey, Derek Meech, and Randy Jones are back and healthy, Flood may become the seventh defensemen, if the Jets decide to continue with seven with Enstrom on the shelf.
Flood has far outshone the other two defensive call ups - Brett Festerling and Paul Postma - collecting three points (two goals, one assist) and registering a plus two rating in the latter four games of the road trip.
In Buffalo, the Charlottetown, PEI native logged 17:00 minutes of ice time and was up to 19:44 in New Jersey two games prior.
Festerling, on the other hand, has been held pointless in four games, with an even rating and has seen his ice time drop since he logged 19:05 on Long Island to around the 10:00 mark of ice time in the previous two games.
The Jets finally saw some production from their "supposed" top line of Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, and Andrew Ladd - albeit on the final game of the trip.
But nonetheless, Little finally marked himself onto the scoresheets, now it's Wheeler's turn. Once all three are firing into the net, goals may come easier for the team as they have scored 40 goals to the 51 they have allowed.
Despite the minus eleven differential between goals for and goals against, the Jets have massively improved since the start, which saw them outscored in their first three games by a combined score of 13-5, which accounts for eight of the minus eleven against the Jets.
Improvement in net has been huge to on the road trip as Pavelec recorded very solid numbers as the road trip progressed. And some can say that they saw the huge 6-5 overtime loss on Tuesday coming because of Pavelec's seventh consecutive start.
Throughout the road trip, Pavelec managed to have a 3-2-2 record with a 3.22 goals against average and a 0.916 save percentage.
Take away the blowout win in Philadelphia at the start of the trip, Pavelec is 2-2-2 with a 2.40 goals against average and a 0.929 save percentage.
Looking at the numbers, their number one netminder has been coming into his own, especially during the road swing, and has put the inconsistent play of October behind him.
Now if the Jets defense is healthy and playing well in front of him and the offense is firing on all cylinders heading into the latter part of November, the Jets could be a dark horse team in the Southeast Division and Eastern Conference.
Now the Jets look to improve possibly their worst stat - their home record.
So far this season, the Jets have played an NHL low four games at home.
Time to shake the dust and rust off the MTS Centre as the Jets prepare for a Thursday night meeting with the Florida Panthers - game time is 7:30 PM in downtown Winnipeg.
Good news for the team is, they play 17 of their next 23 games at home, including two stretches - one of five games from October 29th (vs. Ottawa) until December 9th (vs. Carolina) and one of six games from December 13th (vs. Minnesota) until December 23rd (vs. Pittsburgh).
The Jets longest homestand of the season won't be around until late February/early March, when they are at home for eight consecutive games, starting on February 17th against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
With their next few games coming at home, there are a number of very important inter-divisional matchups that could shape the second half of the Jets season.
First up is the Thursday game against Florida, followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning coming to town on November 14th and the Washington Capitals on November 17th.
Two inter-dividional road games follow in Washington (November 23rd) and Carolina (November 25th) followed by two home games against Carolina (December 9th) and Washington (December 15th).
In their next 16 games, the Jets play a Southeast Division opponent seven times.
Photos Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports & Getty Images