Resume your positions, Jets fans.
They've put you through a torturous 113-day labour dispute followed by a blink-or-you'll-miss-it training camp but whether you're in the MTS Centre or in front of your screens for today's season opener against the Ottawa Senators (2 p.m., CBC, TSN1290), it's time again for the comfort and the routine of the NHL regular season.
The teams are out of the starting blocks today with a condensed 48-game season until April 27. The shortness injects wild-cards into conference races, but no more so than individual-team changes and improvements.
Lockout blip aside, it's expected the vast majority of Jets Nation will pick up where it left off last April -- difficult to improve on that -- trying to hurt the eardrums of opponents and will its team to the playoffs.
Playoffs -- realistic or fantasy?
"You know other teams have made improvements but at the same time, we're going to be a lot better in here, too," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Friday, the final day of six-day camps. "We have young guys that need to take that next step and we've added a few veteran guys who are going to help us out."
The key adds for the Jets include minute-rich centre Olli Jokinen and veteran winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. And many eyes will be on 19-year-old Mark Scheifele, who for a second straight season will start with the Jets and try to make it permanent.
"Definitely it feels different up front," Ladd said. "Adding Olli and being stronger in the centre position is going to help out a ton. You feel like you have four really strong lines you can put out there against anyone.
"Having that option really helps the pace of our game, which I think is really the key to our success."
Rebirth of a Jets nation
Winnipeg Free Press | Jan 19