The month of April for the Winnipeg Jets could easily be compared to a heavyweight prizefight. The challenger (Winnipeg) would take their lumps and get knocked down early on but would battle back in the middle rounds to make the fight’s conclusion a nail biter. The way the playoff race is shaping up, the Jets are in for a twelve round battle.
Big Apple Blues
The Jets started off the month of April with back-to-back games against the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. Winnipeg would be in tough as both opponents were also seeking playoff berths. The Rangers would get two goals from forward Derek Stepan and would win 4-2. The following night, the Jets would take on a resurgent Islanders club who had won four out of their last five games. Jets defenseman Paul Postma scored twice but was the lone bright spot as Islanders star John Tavares had a goal and an assist to lead the Isles to a 5-2 victory.
Next up was the Northeast leading Montreal Canadiens. The Jets found out the hard way why the Canadiens were the top team in Canada losing 4-1. Despite outshooting the Habs 34-24, only Alexander Burmistrov could get one past backup goaltender Peter Budaj. Montreal forward Michael Ryder would pot two goals in the victory.
Home Is Where The Heart Is
After five straight losses, Winnipeg would get off the canvas and take the fight at home . The result? Four straight wins and some playoff hope. The Jets started off with an easy 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Evander Kane had a goal and an assist and Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov would get pulled much to the delight of the sold out crowd.
Ladd Leads the Charge
If there were any critics regarding the leadership of Andrew Ladd, they were silenced in games against the Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. With every game a must win, Ladd rose to the occasion and tallied 4 goals and 3 assists in the three game span. Winnipeg would beat the Sabres 4-1, dismantle the Panthers 7-2, and would hang on for a shootout win against the Lightning to win 4-3. Ladd would also score the shootout clincher against the Lightning.
Jets coach Claude Noel talked about Andrew Ladd’s performance and how it inspired his teammates. “He drives the bus,” Noel said. “That’s what [Ladd] can do, [Ladd] can do those things and can really help your team both in the game, on the ice and off the ice.”
At press time, the Jets were tied with the Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot with the Rangers having a game in hand. With only five games remaining, every game is a must-win. Buckle up, Jets fans. The final stretch will be a fight to the finish.
Photo by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal