Jets have healthy attitude

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien takes to the ice during the first period of their NHL...

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien takes to the ice during the first period of their NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa, Florida, Feb. 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Brian Blanco)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

A funny thing happened on the way to writing a positive column about the Winnipeg Jets, Friday.

The Jets wouldn’t let me.

Seriously.

I was all set to revisit the Drama in D.C. and how that ridiculous, late comeback against the Capitals, complete with Dustin Byfuglien’s centre-ice shocker of a tying goal, could carry over into a Saturday matinee in Pittsburgh.

The Jets could throw aside the old “let’s not get too high” adage, mock the “enjoy it for 15 minutes, then move on” mantra, and milk that magical feeling for all it was worth, my thinking went.

Then I talked to the players, and it turned out they saw far more negative than positive in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout victory.

“You can use it as momentum, but it’s not really the way we wanted to win,” is how defenceman Mark Stuart put it. “We didn’t quite get the 60 minutes we wanted. We didn’t have a great first period.”

Over on the grinder side of the room, Chris Thorburn was even more critical.

“It’s an effort we’re not proud of, obviously,” Thorburn began. “Somehow we found a way to do it and get the two points. We’ll take it. But it’s nothing to build off of, as far as where our effort was.

“It just wasn’t our style of game.”

Geez, these guys were just warm and fuzzy enough to be sportswriters. Without the thinning hair and pot bellies.

Or maybe grumpy head coaches.

“I don’t think the guys liked it any more than I did,” Claude Noel said.

Apparently not.

One really bad period, it seems, was enough to wipe out the joy of two goals in the final 2:15 and an improbable win over a Southeast Division rival.

And you know what?

That’s probably a good thing.

Because the last thing the Jets need right now, you could argue, is to relax and think they’ve figured it out after back-to-back wins.

Better teams might win like that and say everything is hunky dory, glossing over whatever problems created the 2-0 deficit in the first place.

That strategy could be deadly against the Penguins.

The Jets would be far better served by peeling away the reasons for that dreadful first 25 to 30 minutes in Barack Obama’s back yard.

“Why we do that, I don’t know,” Thorburn said. “We can’t feel our way into games.”

Not if they want to grope their way into the playoffs.

There’s one thing Noel would like to take out of the darkness that was D.C., though.

Trouble is, she’s harder to catch than a firefly in daylight.

I’m talking about Lady Luck.

“The play with Byfuglien... was huge for us. I don’t remember us having that type of good fortune,” the coach said. “We’re hoping maybe that feeds into our psyche a little bit. Because we’ve been struggling on the offensive side of things.

“We may get an opportunity here to jump forward a little bit. A little luck is always welcome.”

Especially when she wills the puck into the opposing net, some 100 feet away, in the dying minutes of what appeared to be a lost cause.

I wouldn’t count on getting another dance with her, though. This dame is in high demand.

And I think the Jets know it.

They stole one they probably didn’t deserve, and realize it might not happen again.

Next time, probably even Saturday, in Pittsburgh, they’ll be on their own.

It’s a healthy attitude to have, in a grumpy kind of way.


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