Heading into the new year, the Winnipeg Jets have battled their way into a Wild Card spot and will have the tall task of holding off teams chasing them in the standings. The Jets are now faced with another challenge out of their control as they battle the injury bug that will keep Jacob Trouba, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom, and Mark Stuart out of the lineup.
Before the Jets took on the Buffalo Sabres at home, it was announced that defenseman Jacob Trouba would be out due to injury until February joining Zach Bogosian. With one of their young stars out, another stepped up in his place. Mark Scheifele scored two goals in the second period and added an assist on an Evander Kane goal to slice the Sabres up 5-1. Ondrej Pavelec turned away 27 of 28 shots in the win.
With a thinning defense, the Jets traded for Jay Harrison from the Carolina Hurricanes for some help on the back end. His impact was felt immediately against the Boston Bruins as he assisted on the opening goal by Kane. Mathieu Perreault scored late in the second period and Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Bruins.
The Philadelphia Flyers came to town to close off a four game home stand for the Jets. Winnipeg held on to a 3-1 lead going into the third period but Vincent Lecavalier took over the third period and scored two goals to even the contest. Flyers forward and NHL points leader Jakub Voracek scored his second of the game just 10 seconds into overtime to lift his team to a 4-3 victory. Flyers goaltender Rob Zepp outdueled Pavelec to win his NHL debut.
The Jets travelled to the “Windy City” to take on the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks. Winnipeg got off to a great start scoring three first period goals and never looked back beating the Hawks 5-1 and snapped their eight game home winning streak. Mathieu Perreault tallied twice and Hutchinson was brilliant in a 38 save performance.
Winnipeg opened up a home and home series with their budding rivals, the Minnesota Wild. In the first game at the Xcel Energy Centre, the Jets had a bit of luck on their side to walk away with two points. Jets forward Evander Kane and Wild centre Mikael Granlund both had a goal and assist to help their respective clubs force overtime. Halfway through overtime, Andrew Ladd shot a harmless looking shot at the stanchions behind the Wild net and bounced back off Wild goaltender John Curry and into the net giving the Jets a 4-3 victory. In the second game in Winnipeg between the two clubs, Minnesota used three second period goals to edge the Jets 3-2. Frolik and Perreault scored for Winnipeg in the loss.
Eastern Conference powerhouse, the New York Islanders brought the fireworks to the MTS Centre on New Year’s Eve. Ryan Strome had a goal and three assists giving the Isles a 5-2 victory. Captain Andrew Ladd scored twice in the losing cause.
The Jets started off 2015 in great form against a team whose number they have had . The ailing Toronto Maple Leafs, coming off a 3-1 loss to the Wild the previous night, were easily overpowered by the Jets 5-1. Dustin Byfuglien was a force scoring a goal and an assist and Bryan Little added a goal and two helpers. After the game, Byfuglien talked about why his team has been successful despite the injury woes.
“Our team buying into and sticking to our game plan,” the defenseman said. “Worry about our defense first and our offense will come.”
The Jets will take on the Sharks at home before embarking on a three game West coast road trip. Even with the injuries, the Jets are looking in the right direction as they are now chasing teams above them in the standings while keeping a close watch on teams chasing them.
Photos by Star Roxas and Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal