The Winnipeg Jets went 4-1 during what will easily be the quietest part of their 2022-23 schedule.
Starting Thursday night, the opportunities for rest, recovery, and especially practices will be few and far between — if at all.
When the Jets kick off a homestand by paying homage to Teemu Selanne and Teppo Numminen prior to Thursday night’s game versus Anaheim, they’ll also be starting the first of two marathons.
The first leg will see them play 20 times in 37 days. Only once during that five-week-plus stretch will the Jets have more than one day off between games.
And after the three days off for Christmas, it will be back to the grindstone, playing 18 games in 35 days before heading into the all-star weekend and the players’ break.
Over that five-week timeframe, just twice will the Jets have consecutive days off.
After Wednesday this week, Rick Bowness and the coaching staff will realistically have three days to conduct what would be considered a “full” practice over the next 11 weeks. And it’s a good bet there won’t be a full turnout for many of those 38 morning skates.
Over the past 17 days, the Jets put the added practice time — and rest — to good use.
Of course, you want some tangible evidence.
Since the beginning of November, Winnipeg’s average shots allowed dropped by seven per game. The goals-against average improved to 1.60 over the last five games from 2.77 over the first nine.
The powerplay has gone from 13.3 per cent to an even 20. And the penalty-killing efficiency has risen from just over 79 per cent to just under 84.
Quality of competition maybe had a bit to do with those significant improvements. But so did the schedule.
Starting Thursday night — and continuing through to the end of January — if the Winnipeg Jets are going to continue to succeed, neither of those advantages are going to be a factor.
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