What we've learned so far about the Jets

Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec keeps an eye on play during practice in Winnipeg Saturday...

Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec keeps an eye on play during practice in Winnipeg Saturday October 08, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:43 PM ET

And on the 14th day, the Winnipeg Jets opted for a day of rest, which left us a little time for reflection.

Following a fairly productive 3-2-2 road trip that spanned nearly two weeks, Jets head coach Claude Noel gave his team the day off in an effort to quickly recharge the batteries. They need the rest, considering they’ll face the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7:35 p.m., TSN Jets, TSN 1290) at MTS Centre before heading back out on the road for a game Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The season-long seven-game swing opened in Philadelphia on Oct. 27 and that crazy momentum-shifting 9-8 Jets win set the table for some interesting moments over a two-week span that came to a close Tuesday with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Disappointment was a prevalent theme in the Jets dressing room after failing to hold four separate leads, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom either.

Nor should it be.

The Jets showed plenty of gumption during this trip and their level of play is rising, slowly but surely.

“We’re never out of it,” said Jets forward Tanner Glass, who finished off the trip with a Gordie Howe hat trick and now has three goals and eight points in 15 games this season. “We’ve had some bad periods here and there and some times where things haven’t been going our way but we’ve been able to right the ship and that’s a good sign for a team.”

With that in mind, here are five things we learned about the Jets during the past two weeks:

1) GOALIE ONDREJ PAVELEC IS ROUNDING INTO FORM

The Jets netminder has started seven consecutive games and really turned things around after giving up seven goals (and getting pulled before going back in to finish the game after Chris Mason injured his groin in relief). Pavelec was easily the first star on this road trip, giving the Jets a chance to win every game since Oct. 29.

2) NIK ANTROPOV'S VALUE IS UNDER-RATED

The 6-foot-6 forward has been playing some excellent hockey, not just serving as a mentor for second-year stud Alex Burmistrov. Antropov continues to lead the Jets in scoring with 11 points in 13 games and they missed his presence big-time when forced to miss two games because of a hand injury.

3) ZACH BOGOSIAN IS BLOSSOMING

The fourth-year blue-liner saw his ice time increase as the Jets played much of the trip without four or five regulars on the back end. He’s embraced the expanded role and is growing every day under the tutelage of assistant coach Charlie Huddy. Playing regularly with the steady Mark Stuart hasn’t hurt either.

4) BRYAN LITTLE IS RELIEVED

The pivot finally snapped a 14-game scoring drought by pumping home a pair on Tuesday. He’s emerged from his early-season funk and you wonder if a hot streak might be around the corner. Blake Wheeler had two assists against the Sabres and might be the next to end a slump.

5) THE JIM SLATER COMEBACK STORY IS IMPRESSIVE

After a concussion limited him to just 36 games last season, a healthy Slater is tied for the team lead with five goals and is on pace for a career-year offensively. He’s also a heart-and-soul guy who is good on draws, blocks shots and is strong defensively. An early candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy as comeback player of the year.


Videos

Photos