by PuckStopsHere on 10/17/11 at 02:20 PM ET
One of the biggest highlights of the upcoming season during the summer was the return of the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg has been very happy to see NHL hockey return, but the results on the ice have not been so good. The Jets are only three games into the season, but they are stuck in last place. They have lost all three of their outings so far. The Jets lost their season opener 5-1 against Montreal. Their closest game was a 4-3 loss to Chicago. Most recently they have lost 4-1 to Phoenix. All told, Winnipeg has allowed 13 goals and scored only five. This isn’t a good start and it will likely be a long season.
The Atlanta Thrashers were not a particularly good team before moving to Winnipeg. There were five teams who were worse than them in last year’s standings. This year’s team in Winnipeg will have a bigger problem with travel being stuck in the Southeast Division.
Winnipeg did not make any big name moves over the course of the summer. Their core remains the same as the Atlanta Thrashers had. Last year, Atlanta’s top two offensive players were having the best years of their career. Andrew Ladd led the team with 59 points. His previous best was 49. Dustin Byfuglien scored 53 points. His previous best was 36. Winnipeg better hope that these players can repeat those results of the jets will have no offence.
When you throw in the fact that the Jets have not had goaltending, we can explain their poor results. Ondrej Pavelec is currently posting a 4.58 GAA and a .833 saves percentage. Those numbers, though likely to improve, are very bad. Chris Mason wasn’t much better in his game. Should Winnipeg’s goaltending stay this poor it will be a really long season.
The Winnipeg Jets have a rabid fanbase. That alone is an improvement from Atlanta. A poor season will not kill the fanbase. It may slow its momentum, but hockey is too much a part of the culture in Manitoba for the team to be abandoned. This fanbase will be tested this season because this Jets team is not very good. They won’t be in the playoff race and if a few things go wrong they could be in the race for last place overall.
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