The playoff grind starts on Wednesday for the Winnipeg Jets with Game 1 of their opening round series against the St. Louis Blues.
The Jets are looking to write a new chapter after closing the book on a disappointing end to the regular season.
“The season’s over, and it’s a new time of year right now.” Jets forward Bryan Little said.
The Jets have waited for this opportunity ever since last season’s playoff elimination in the Western Conference Final. But after losing five of their final seven games, the Jets haven’t looked anything like the team that made the run to the final four.
“It’s playoff hockey,” Jets forward Mark Scheifele said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a new team, it’s a new year, a new Stanley Cup Playoffs. So anything that happened last year is totally out the window.”
“It’s gonna be a helluva series,” head coach Paul Maurice said.
“Regular season was fine, it’s just not a whole lot of fun. This is where it’s fun.”
“We have a positive mindset and we’re excited to kinda get the meaningful games underway,” Jets forward Adam Lowry said. “We know St. Louis presents us a real tough challenge.”
The Jets had a ton of success against the Blues this season, but that feels like eons ago now. The Jets won three of the four meetings, outscoring the Blues 18-10, but all of those games were in the first two months of the season, and they haven’t met since December 7.
The Blues were dead last in the NHL’s overall standings in early January, but have been the best team in the NHL in the second half of the season.
“This by no means is gonna be an easy series,” Little said.
“It’s gonna be a grinder, and it’s gonna test both teams. I think we’re prepared for that, and we’re ready for that, and we know they’re going to be a really hard team.”
“I think just on paper, we have a better team,” Patrik Laine said.
“I think we have better players in this locker room than they have, and I think, when we’re on our game, and we’re playing our best game, I think we’re just a better team.”
With Josh Morrissey set to return from a six-week absence, defenceman Nathan Beaulieu is expected to be the odd man out for Game 1.
“It’s not easy because his play didn’t warrant it,” Maurice said. “But Josh Morrissey’s play warrants him being in the lineup, and you got to make those kinda decisions.”
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