Friday, February 3, 2012

No Third Period Relapses Here

When watching the third period of yesterday's 2-1 Winnipeg Jets overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning, I couldn't help but notice that the Jets have been a team that has played some solid hockey in the final frame thus far after the All-Star break.

And on the road to boot.

Sure, Victor Hedman scored the game tying goal midway through the final frame, but the Jets didn't collapse as they have been prone to do, especially on the road.

Tampa outshot the Jets 10-8 in the final frame, but still the Jets managed to get at least one point heading to extra time, where Kyle Wellwood ended it with his first game winning goal in over a year.

It seems the returns of Dustin Byfuglien and Alexander Burmistrov were the spark the Jets needed to cure their third period relapses on the road.

Not only are the Jets now 7-4-2 against Southeast Divisional opponents, they improve their dismal road record with another important win against an Eastern Conference team - this time one that is behind them trying to make up ground.

Having played the most games in the Eastern Conference (52) besides the Ottawa Senators (53) and cellar dwelling Carolina Hurricanes (53), the Jets have started their second half with the urgency that they needed in their game.

With players such as Byfuglien and Burmistrov coming back from injury, the situation turns into a blessing.

Maybe this team will reverse the fortunes of last season and the relapse in winning has already come and gone.

We all remember last season when the Atlanta Thrashers tanked the season in the new year.

Granted, the Jets are only 5-8-1 in 2012 so far and now 24-22-6 good enough for tenth in the East, but the sense of resurgence cannot be lost on the fans or the players.

"We dug ourselves a bit of a hole in January and we came out of it and realized we were still in the race." admitted Kyle Wellwood, the hero Thursday night.

"It's a tight one; there's teams creeping up behind us and we're creeping up on teams, too. We're focussed on if we can get to that long stretch of home games -- I don't know when it is exactly but it's coming up -- if we can get somewhere near that top eight when we go into that stretch, then there’s no reason we can't be in it until the end." (courtesy Winnipeg Free Press, 02/02/2012)

This road trip has a now or never attitude and hopefully the Jets can make the best of it.

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