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Winnipeg Jets ready to hit the road again with more confidence after homestand

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Winnipeg Jets ready to hit the road again with more confidence after homestand

The Canadian Press
By:

WINNIPEG - Call it the confidence factor.

The points are great but a can-do attitude might be the biggest benefit the Winnipeg Jets gained during their successful eight-game home stand.

"I think the confidence is huge for us," said forward Chris Thorburn. "We've definitely been rolling here."

The Jets were scheduled to end their homestand Monday night against the Buffalo Sabres. They head into the contest having managed to pick up 10 of a possible 14 points with plenty to be happy about.

For example:

—Winnipeg's power play has caught fire, having connected on 10 of its last 16 chances heading into Monday's game.

—Dustin Byfuglien is the NHL's third leading scorer among defencemen and is ranked No. 2 since the all-star break.

—Evander Kane had two goals for the seventh time this season last week in a 7-0 win over the Florida Panthers. He also added two assists, giving him his first four-point game in the NHL.

—Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has already tied his season record of four shutouts.

—Winnipeg briefly held top spot in the Southeast Division and the coveted third playoff spot but the club has managed to cling to the eighth and final post-season berth with some consistency.

"Our offence has been going, our defence has been strong and our goaltending has been great," said Thorburn. "I think it's just our maturity level and learning how to win games."

Regardless of the outcome Monday, the Jets seem ready to roll with a new attitude. But it will be put to the test Thursday in Vancouver and the following night in Calgary.

The Jets' road record of 11-17-4 remains a concern, ranking the club 25th in the NHL. By comparison, Winnipeg is a solid seventh overall at home (20-10-4) heading into Monday's contest.

"Obviously that's been our downfall throughout the course of the season," Thorburn said of the club's road woes.

Head coach Claude Noel says confidence is important to any team.

"We've been going fairly good at home and we're hoping it builds confidence, which it has, and you feed off of that," he said.

"There's no reason we shouldn't be able to do the same on the road," added defenceman Mark Stuart.

Noel likens Winnipeg's last 17 regular-season games to a playoff series of its own. At one point the Jets had played a lot more games than most but now that has changed, making the remaining contests crucially important.

Still, Stuart says the team has matured.

"I think we're growing quite a bit," he said. "We know exactly how we need to play and guys know to a man what their role is and I think that's important."

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Winnipeg Jets ready to hit the road again with more confidence after homestand