February 24 2012 09:19AM
What a difference a week makes.
All but left for dead after a home-ice loss to the New York Islanders on Valentine's Day, the Jets have rattled off four wins in five games--and collected nine of a possible 10 points--and now find themselves atop the Southeast Division standings through 63 games.
The Jets looked like a team on a mission last night, dominating the Lightning for 55 minutes before giving up some late goals in garbage time en route to a 4-3 win.
A big reason for the turnaround has been goal production. The team's once hapless offence has ignited, scoring at least four goals in all five games.The power play has been a key cog, and had converted on seven straight man-advantage opportunities before failing to convert on a late third-period chance last night.
The Jets now sit third--at least temporarily--in the Eastern Conference standings by virtue of their one-point lead over the Florida Panthers in the Southeast. Games in hand notwithstanding (and it does seem like everyone has a leg up on the Jets in that department), they sport a 30-26-7 record , good for 67 points, and still have four more games on this homestand to enjoy. The "P" word most certainly is a reality at this point, and that's not just from a subjective fans' perspective. SportsClubStats now suggests the Jets have a 38.2 per cent chance of making it into the dance. Still anything but a sure thing, but much improved from the less than 12 per cent odds they were facing a week ago.
Scoring by committee is a mantra the Jets have to live by to be successful, and they've been doing just that, even getting a goal from Tanner Glass in last night's win.
The Ladd-Little-Wheeler unit, the one line that came highly regarded after their late season success in Atlanta last year, was slow out of the gates but has caught far at the right time. Ladd has five goals in four games, Little has seven points during that stretch, and Blake Wheeler has a goal and 10 assists in his last five. The second unit has been good, too. Evander Kane has heated up alongside Burmistrov and Wellwood, tallying four goals and four assists over the last five, while Dustin Byfuglien has been the straw that stirs the drink from the back-end with 13 points in his last eight.
Sure, in a perfect world they'd like to upgrade the fourth line right wing position, as neither Miettinen or Fehr has proven worthy of a regular spot in the lineup--the pair has combined for just one goal in 60 games.
But the defense core is as solid as they come with depth to sustain them through injuries, while the goaltending has been stellar no matter which of the Jets' tenders suits up. This team is good enough to squeak into the top eight, especially with others around them self-destructing. The Leafs have issues and the Capitals can't seem to figure it out.
You wanna talk about playoffs!? Yes, as a matter of fact I do.