Winnipeg Jets like flying under the radar as best NHL team in Canada

WINNIPEG — Mark Scheifele doesn’t care if the Winnipeg Jets aren’t big news in Canadian hockey circles.

While a lot headlines this season have focused on the success of Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs or the plight of Connor McDavid and the lowly Edmonton Oilers, the Jets have quietly climbed up the NHL standings.

Winnipeg (17-6-4) moved into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. Their 38 points give them a two point advantage on the St. Louis Blues (17-8-2).

“If we’re getting points in games or we’re winning games that’s all that matters to us,” Scheifele said. “We don’t care if we get attention, we don’t care if we get accolades because of it. They can take all the media attention and we’ll continue to work on our game and try to be the best team we can be.”

The Kitchener, Ont., native had a goal and an assist against Ottawa, giving him the team lead in goals with 14 and 34 points.

Winnipeg’s win over the Senators also extended its winning streak at Bell MTS Place to six games, where they’ve gone 10-2-1.

Winnipeg, which has only made the playoffs once in six seasons since relocating from Atlanta in 2011, didn’t open this campaign on a high note.

It lost its first two games against Toronto and Calgary, but hasn’t been defeated twice in a row in regulation since then. There was a pair of overtime losses in late October.

“Not a lot of people were talking about us before the season started,” said veteran centre Bryan Little, who hails from Edmonton.

“Maybe people still aren’t talking that much about us, but I don’t think we mind that kind of flying under the radar. If we can surprise a few people, that’s all right with us.”

Veteran forward Mathieu Perreault said it comes with the territory that teams such as the Leafs get more headlines because they’re in bigger markets, but he thinks the Jets are beginning to turn some heads.

“I was watching TV (Friday night) and they were talking about the fact that we’re first in the conference now,” the native of Drummondville, Que., said. “They’re talking about us being one of the best teams in the league so I think we’re starting to catch people’s attention a lot more.”

Consistent, strong play from goalie Connor Hellebuyck (15-2-3) has helped push the Jets up the standings, but so has a more balanced attack.

Perreault has been a catalyst for a fourth line that’s producing. After missing 12 games with an injury, he returned to the lineup Nov. 16 and was put alongside veteran newcomer Matt Hendricks and hard-working Finnish winger Joel Armia.

The trio has scored goals — five for Perreault — and their teammates and head coach Paul Maurice have praised their energy and ability to create offence.

“Goaltending has been a big part of it,” Perreault said of the team’s success. “There’s been some big saves at key moments in important games and we have the depth.

“Right now I’m playing on the fourth line and we’ve been able to score every other night, if not every night, so that takes a lot of pressure off of your top players.

“And they’ve producing like crazy, too. When you get four lines that score every other night, most times you’re going to win games.”

Yet the players know anything can happen so they’ll enjoy their high ranking for now and try to build on it.

“It’s kind of new territory for a lot of us, but it’s not like we’re patting ourselves on the back in there,” Little said.

“We’re confident and we’re having fun, but we know there’s a lot of hockey left.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

A Red Deer County man was arrested for drug possession by Innisfail RCMP on April 19. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Property crime and drugs top Red Deer RCMP priorities in new plan

2020-2022 Policing Priorities Plan going to city council on Monday

RCMP estimate about 500 people gathered on the weekend near Garrington Bridge along the Red Deer River, in a July 28, 2020 story. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Second person charged for alleged assault at anti-racism rally in Red Deer

A second person is facing charges following an alleged assault during an… Continue reading

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees vice-president Bonnie Gustola criticized provincial government layoffs at a rally that drew more than 80 people at City Hall Park on Friday.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
More than 80 rally in Red Deer against government health, education cutbacks

Rally at City Hall Park organized by the Council for Canadians

The higher the education level, the higher the income of some 1.3 million post-secondary graduates surveyed between 2010 and 2015, with master's degrees paying off the most. But the findings also suggest that gender and timing matter. (Black Press Media File).
2020 high school grads won’t get their ceremony

Decision announced by Lindsay Thurber and Hunting Hills high schools, and Gateway Christian School

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

New voluntary measures, including the encouragement of more mask wearing, have been introduced in the Edmonton health zone. “Red Deer has been very fortunate to have relatively low case numbers . . . relative to the rest of the province and the country,” says Mayor Tara Veer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
POLL: Should Alberta have stricter rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Should Alberta have stricter rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?… Continue reading

Police in Ottawa are investigating an incident of hate-motivated graffiti at the National War Memorial. The alleged incident happened last Friday night, when police say a man, shown in a police handout photo, used a sharp object to engrave a hateful message on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. THE CANADIAN PRESSS/HO-Ottawa Police Service MANDATORY CREDIT
Ottawa police investigating hate-motivated graffiti incident at National War Memorial

Ottawa police investigating hate-motivated graffiti incident at National War Memorial

Indigenous fisherman Robert Syliboy stands on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Tensions remain high over an Indigenous-led lobster fishery that has been the source of conflict with non-Indigenous fishermen. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
For Mi’kmaq fishers, dreams of a peaceful harvest on N.S. waters repeatedly dashed

For Mi’kmaq fishers, dreams of a peaceful harvest on N.S. waters repeatedly dashed

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday October 21, 2020. Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says he is set to tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau he has 'lost confidence' in RCMP Commissioner Lucki. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Bellegarde wants Brenda Lucki out as head of RCMP

Bellegarde wants Brenda Lucki out as head of RCMP

This image released by CBS All Access shows Dan Illescas, left, and Tracey Stabile of the Central Texas Pig Rescue in a scene from the CBS All Access docuseries "That Animal Rescue Show." (Danny Matson/CBS All Access via AP)
Animals, people rescue each other in heartfelt docuseries

Animals, people rescue each other in heartfelt docuseries

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe scores his sixth goal of the WHL season in the first period against the Tri-City Americans on Saturday night at the Centrium. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
WHL grants players temporary transfer until mid-December

Players are eligible to suit up in Junior A, Junior B and U-18 ranks

Most Read