The Stanley Cup playoffs, which had not involved Winnipeg since 1996, have now come and gone from River City. The Jets lost four in a row to the Anaheim Ducks. It was a disappointment for sure, but not entirely surprising.
It reminded me a little of the 1980 playoffs when a young Oilers team battled hard but couldn’t get by the powerful Philadelphia Flyers in the first round. It was the first playoff action for 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky, who is now a 54-year-old grandfather — is that possible?
WINNIPEG — Winnipeg’s playoff dreams were dashed with a swift swipe of the broom as the Anaheim Ducks swept the Jets in four straight games with a 5-2 win in front of the ever-enthusiastic 15,016 at MTS Centre Wednesday night.
The franchise — including the 12 years when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers — has never won a Stanley Cup Playoff game despite two separate appearances. Back in 2007, while holding the third seed in the Eastern Conference, the Thrashers were knocked out in four-straight at the hands of the New York Rangers.
Year four in the Manitoba capital and the Jets finally edged their way into the post-season by capturing the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, pairing them up in the first round with the West’s best regular season club.
One of the messages written on the white board in the Winnipeg Jets’ locker-room read: “Why not us?”
Only four teams in NHL history came back from the same 3-0 series deficit the Jets face against the Anaheim Ducks.
Two of those times came in the past five years: The Los Angeles Kings coming back on the San Jose Sharks last playoffs and the Philadelphia Flyers beating the Boston Bruins in 2010. So Jets and Ducks players and coaches are letting history be their guide.
WINNIPEG — The Anaheim Ducks made it three straight comeback wins Monday night, breaking hearts across Winnipeg with a 5-4 overtime win. The loss spells disaster for the Winnipeg Jets, as they now trail their first round series 3-0. The Ducks will look to move on to the second round on Wednesday at MTS Centre.
That MTS Centre, by the way, was impossibly raucous as 15,016 fans celebrated the first playoff game in Winnipeg since 1996. They helped their team get out of the gate strong, with sustained zone time and an opening goal.
“That’s as good a building as I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “We had the jump, the legs because of it… and we needed it, we used it to full effect.”
“It was an unbelievable experience in the building,” said Lee Stempniak, who opened the scoring for the Jets halfway through the first. “I personally haven’t had anything like that before and we certainly played off the energy.”
WINNIPEG – What True North has done since getting the Jets from Atlanta could be an example for Las Vegas if the ownership group led by Bill Foley is awarded an expansion franchise.
“I think in terms of introducing a team to a market, whether it’s an introduction or a re-introduction, I don’t know how anybody could have done it better than the Winnipeg Jets did here,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday night at MTS Centre.