Maurice leading Jets in the right direction
The team struck out in its first two seasons but after winning six of their last seven games, they appear to be headed in the right direction. As of this writing, the Jets are just seven points behind the eighth place Minnesota Wild in Western Conference and are playing a style of hockey that is producing winning results.
One of the main reasons for this change is the hiring of Paul Maurice as the team's new bench boss. With the team floundering under previous head coach Claude Noel, the Jets needed to make a change and hiring Maurice certainly seems like it has been the right move so far.
Under Maurice, it appears as though the team has woken up from a long slumber. The team is putting the puck in the net (24 goals in seven games under Maurice), is playing better defensively (13 goals allowed under Maurice), and more importantly, finding ways to win hockey games.
One reason why the Jets are succeeding under their new head coach is their new offensive style of play. The team is playing a more up-tempo style of hockey and it has led to more odd man rushes, more breakaways, and a better forecheck which has helped create turnovers.
Obviously, this kind of style may not work all the time for the rest of the season, but right now, it has the Jets awake and ready to put the puck in the net. When put in the right situation, the Jets have several players who can produce somewhat consistently and right now, Maurice finding those guys and utilizing them to the team's advantage.
Secondly, the team's defensive structure has been much better under Maurice than it was with Noel guiding the ship. The Jets are playing much better in their own end, doing a better job of taking away shooting lanes, doing an even better job of protecting their netminder, and making better and smarter decisions with the puck in their own end.
For the Jets, there has never really been a doubt with their offense. On the other end, their play without the puck has always been a huge question mark, but it appears that under Maurice, this team is going to be a lot better on the defensive side of the puck.
Lastly, Maurice is slowly starting to establish a winning culture for the Jets. For much of this season, the Jets had struggled in a big way and put themselves near the basement of the Western Conference.
Since Maurice has taken over behind the bench, the Jets have won six of seven games and have done so by beating good teams. In fact, last night, the Jets beat the Chicago Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, by a score of 3-1 in Chicago at the United Center, which is a very tough building to win hockey games in.
If the Jets want to make the postseason, there are still things they need to work on in their game. With that said, if they keep listening to Maurice and keep playing the way they are right now, a postseason spot in April might not be out of the question.