ANALYSIS: Playoff-bound Jets took a while to get there, but worth the wait

Paul Edmonds Jets Report

It probably took a little longer than it should have, considering their torrid start, but the Winnipeg Jets punched their ticket into the Stanley Cup playoffs Tuesday night with an impressive victory.

Not only did the Jets beat the Minnesota Wild for the first time in four starts this season, they did so fighting, scratching and clawing their way through a hostile crowd, suspect officiating and a Wild team hell-bent on playing like a motorcycle gang.

For Winnipeg, they earned their spot — no doubt — producing a 7-3 record over their last 10 games to get there, and fending off the critics and skeptics to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in an 82-game season since 2019.

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And it was a compilation of team contributions, from Connor Hellebuyck making 13 consecutive starts down the stretch, backstopping the team to the stellar goaltending they required, to Mark Scheifele scoring goals 40, 41 and 42 in crucial contests to inspire the masses that he, too, was all-in.

But last night’s playoff-clinching win does more than just ensure NHL hockey will continue in downtown Winnipeg until at least the end of April. It also should electrify the fanbase again, who, frankly, were instrumental in kick-starting a homestand nearly two weeks ago that helped the Jets gain altitude.

Over those five games, Canada Life Centre vibrated and downtown was the place to be, and to be seen. That will only be more relevant — and popular — in the coming days, thanks to Lowry, Morrissey and Ehlers.

Nobody knows how far this Jets team will get in their latest entry into the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the first step — a large one, at that — was taken Tuesday night in St. Paul amid the noise and adversity.

And yes, it took a little longer than many thought it might two months ago, but with the way the Jets are playing currently, you wonder if it might be worth the wait.

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