2 days remain in our 12 Days of Jetsmas, and that brings us to my ode to former Jets defenseman, Adam Pardy, who last wore the #2 for the Jets – wait, hold on – I’m being told that isn’t the theme for the number 2… Oh, we’re going back to recap the Jets playoff series wins? That works too!
Ahem… On the 2nd Day of Jetsmas, the Franchise Gave to Us….. Two Series Wins!
Last season’s run to the Western Conference Final is something that I’m sure we all remember well, and often look back on with delight. The Whiteout, the street parties, and most importantly, the wins. The 2018 playoffs made way for a new entry in the record books, as the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise had finally won a playoff game, and more notably, a playoff series. Then, with the record books re-written, the Jets came out and continued on their success and taking their second round series against Nashville. Ultimately, the fun came to an end in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, but the games before that are the ones that spurred a different type of fire in the hearts of Winnipeggers and Jets fans everywhere.
Let’s flash back to the beginning of this journey, shall we?
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) April 11, 2018
Round One: Minnesota
It was April 11th, 2018 at 6:00 PM Central Daylight Time. Fans dressed in all white filled Bell MTS Place to the roof, with thousands outside on Donald Street looking to join in the fun. The pre-game introductions were rolling as the players waited patiently in the tunnels, waiting to skate onto the ice that was seemingly a darker shade of white than the crowd. The Minnesota Wild take the ice first and get serenaded with “boos” as they skate across to their bench. The jeering doesn’t last long, however, as the Jets make their way out of the tunnel to deafening cheers.
Throughout the entirety of the game, the intensity was building and finally reached it’s peak when Joe Morrow fired one from the point that beat Devan Dubnyk to give the Jets the lead. The seconds ticked off, and finally reached zero. There it was. The first ever playoff win for the franchise.
Let’s flash forward a bit now.
April 20th, 2018. Game 5.
This was, to that point, the most meaningful game the franchise had ever played. After splitting the games on the road, the Jets returned home with a 3-1 series lead, and hoped to close it out on home ice. Now, I expected a close game, but I hadn’t prepared for what was about to take place.
All it took was 31 seconds for the Jets to take the lead.
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) April 20, 2018
I was outside the arena, among the 15,000+ gathered in front of screens placed all over the streets, screaming their heads off as that Trouba goal entered the net. I honestly cannot fully describe the feeling that accompanied that goal, and eventually, the 4 others that followed during that game. The Jets cruised to a 5-0 victory, and more importantly, a 4-1 series win. The first in franchise history. Thousands of people flocked to Portage and Main to celebrate and chant the words: “WE WANT NASHVILLE!”. Well, Winnipeg, you got Nashville.
Round Two: Nashville
The Nashville Predators were a fierce regular season team, finishing the season with 117 points and winning the Presidents Trophy. However, it was the season series with that truly fueled a fire within both the organization and the fans that support it. For the most part, the Jets were seen as equals, but everyone was aware that this would be the toughest challenge this team has ever faced.
Bring. It. On.
The Jets rolled into Bridgestone Arena and managed to steal game 1 with a monstrous 48 save performance from Connor Hellebuyck. Nashville outshot the Jets 49-19, but couldn’t beat the Jets backstop. Nashville, on the other hand, didn’t have that safety net, as the Jets chased eventual Vezina winner Pekka Rinne after potting 3 goals on their first 16 shots. What a way to break serve in an intimidating arena.
After the Jets dropped game 2 in double-overtime, they returned home in hopes of taking another advantage, but this time in front of the Whiteout.
Game 3 was one of those games that you will occasionally look up on YouTube because watching it once was never enough. After giving up 3 goals in the first period, the Jets stormed back in the second with 4 goals of their own. The 4th goal also provided us with one of the greatest Byfuglien GIFs to ever grace the internet.
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) May 2, 2018
After firing home another to take the lead 5-4, the Jets snagged two empty netters to defeat the Preds 7-4 in game 3.
For the next 3 games, it was a back-and-forth afair, with Nashville taking two out of three and tying the series at three. This lead to yet another important moment for this young franchise. Game 7. The math was simple. If you win, you move on, but if you lose? See ya.
The Jets started strong, scoring two goals in the first 10:47 of the game, chasing Pekka Rinne yet again. After the Predators cut that lead in half, the Jets didn’t look back, and roared to a 5-1 lead and held on for their second series win.
Round 3: Vegas
I know what you’re probably thinking; “Why are you doing a third round if this is based on the number 2?”.
Well, as you probably already know, round three didn’t end as well as the first two. The Jets matched up against the well-known expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, and started strong. They grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first 7:35, and didn’t look back after that, winning 4-2 and taking a 1-0 series lead. Things were looking good, but then they ran into a major issue. That issue ended up being Marc-Andre Fleury.
Vegas ended up taking four straight, and eliminated the Jets from the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
I think it took a while to set in, but a lot of us were really bummed about coming so close to a Cup Final birth, and falling short. However, this was a first. This was something this team had never done, but could hopefully make into a regular thing.
Sure, losing is tough, but winning the first two series in franchise history was a lot of fun.
Happy holidays everyone, and here’s hoping the next time we write this, it’s at the top, as we celebrate the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.