At times this season, Andrew Ladd’s leadership of the Winnipeg Jets has been easy to notice, popping right off the scoresheet.



Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in a game that had a bit of a playoff feel, the Jets’ captain and leading goal scorer only managed a secondary assist.

But don’t let the stats sheet fool you.

Ladd must have taken his ugly pills Tuesday morning, and I mean that in the nicest way possible, as he was easily the most physical Jet coming out of the gate, hitting every Leaf that moved, even getting into a scrap with captain Dion Phaneuf.

His teammates took Ladd’s lead and the result was an intense and convincing 5-2 victory that puts the Jets right back in the playoff conversation as they launch a home stand.

“Andrew Ladd set the pace,” head coach Claude Noel agreed. “There were a couple of shifts early in the game.... Andrew Ladd was physical in the way he wanted to get this game driven in. He really led the way. Got into it with Phaneuf. He wanted to take a step. It was pretty evident for me.”

The scrap was Ladd’s third as a Jet, but first at home, and it came with the Jets needing someone to set the tone on this home stand.

Their captain was only too happy to oblige.

“It’s tough to be physical all the time, but it’s something I need to bring a little more of,” Ladd said. “When you have an intense game like this, it’s a little easier to get a little mad and to play that way.

“It’s always fun to play the Leafs. You either love ’em or you hate ’em.”

TEAM MEETING: It wasn’t one of those closed-door, players-only affairs, but a coaches-led team meeting Tuesday morning seems to have galvanized the Jets as they try to prove they’re to be taken seriously in the NHL East.

“We had a little discussion,” Blake Wheeler said. “It’s evident, when you have everyone buying in, doing those little things, it’s amazing how simple a thing that is and how far it can go. It resonated with some guys. Let’s all get on the same page here and see what happens.”

Wheeler said the directive came “from the top.”