Winnipeg Jets Take Flight Under Guidance Of New Bench Boss Paul Maurice

By Rick LaFitte
Paul Maurice
Bruce Fedyck – USA TODAY Sports

While admittedly it is a very small sample size, the Winnipeg Jets are certainly getting the desired results after making a recent head coaching change. Paul Maurice’s upbeat personality has been a fresh change to the dour demeanor of the recently fired Claude Noel and the team has responded in a positive manner with three straight victories. Their most recent win was an entertaining 3-2 overtime triumph over the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets responded to adversity when they allowed a game-tying goal with just two minutes left in regulation and rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba played the hero with the game winner in OT, his second of the game and seventh of the season.

When Maurice took over from Noel, the first order of business was for the team to improve defensively, and the second was to stick to the game plan that was in place. You can check both of those boxes, as the Jets have tightened up in both shots against and goals against and have looked like a more confident and cohesive group during a win streak where they’ve outscored their opponents 13-5.

The team desperately needed goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to be better and he has responded by elevating his game under Maurice’s watch. The No. 1 netminder has gone 3-0 turning aside 58-of-63 shots in contests against the Oilers, Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes. He hasn’t looked like the goalie who has struggled for much of the season.

The Jets’ best players have also responded since the changing of the guard. Blake Wheeler has a goal and four helpers during this current winning streak, while Bryan Little has added a goal and three assists. Rookie forward Mark Scheifele continues to play with increased confidence as he scored on an outstanding individual effort against the Oilers and has two goals and two assists in his last three games.

The prevailing theory is that a coaching change tends to produce an immediate spark. Now, it’ll be up to the Jets to continue to show the intensity they’ve shown under Maurice on a consistent basis. They’ve inched closer to the .500 mark at 22-23-5 on the campaign, but despite the successful stretch, remain 10 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Maurice came to the Jets with a strong pedigree with more than 1,000 games as a head coach in the league, and it is clear that the players got the message when Noel was let go. We’ll find out over time whether the success is simply of the short-term variety or whether bringing in Maurice was exactly what the Jets needed to finally take flight on a regular basis moving forward.

Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports.

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