The Winnipeg Jets keep doing things that people don’t expect from them, though admittedly in a very small sample size, under Paul Maurice. On Sunday, they overcame the team that, in many ways, feels like the “grown up” version of the Jets, as they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1.
The Jets feature some significant former Blackhawks (especially Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd) and a former Chicago executive in their GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Before tonight, they had lost three games to Chicago this season by a combined score of 15-5.
With this win, Winnipeg is now 6-1-0 with Paul Maurice behind the bench.
That’s impressive work, but that promise might wear off if their goaltending sags.
Ondrej Pavelec has been producing outstanding work with a new head coach, yet it was Al Montoya who was standing on his head tonight. Chicago generated a ridiculous 18-2 shot advantage in the first period, yet Brandon Bollig was the only person to beat Montoya. And he was perfect for the rest of Sunday night.
Naturally with a team that just sacked their coach seven games ago, Winnipeg still needs to keep things going to have a real shot at the playoffs. According to Sports Club Stats, this win bumped their playoff odds up 3.1 percent to just 8.3. Still, it’s just late-January, and stranger things have happened.
While Maurice is putting more wins in Winnipeg, the Blackhawks face a rare mini-rut, with three straight losses. After the game, captain Jonathan Toews didn’t provide a positive spin to CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers.
“We threw away another two points,” Toews said. “I don’t have an explanation without saying anything negative.”
Perhaps the explanation is simple enough: they ran into a team with soaring confidence and red-hot goaltending?