While it finished with a bang overall, the Winnipeg Jets' first homestand of the season didn't deliver the favorable results many expected before it began.

Bryan Little's overtime goal on Sunday afternoon in the club's 2-1 win over visiting Colorado salvaged the five-game slate in downtown Winnipeg, although the euphoria of that moment only temporarily masked the disappointment of what amounted to a 2-3 record in the team's first significant scheduled stop at home.

Many in the Manitoba capital felt the Jets needed to achieve improvement this season at home and within their own division to ultimately be successful.

The theory was - and still is - a shift upward in both categories this year would certainly aid in possibly propelling the club to the post-season for the first time since its move from Georgia. Thus far, the team is a game below .500 at home and 1-1 in their division.

Now, the calendar hasn't quite turned to November, but the fear in Winnipeg amongst some of the fandom after the first eight games is the season could slip away before it really ever begins in playoff earnest.

For head coach Paul Maurice, there's concern over the 3-5 start, but there's an 82-game schedule to play and panic is not part of a constructive process.

"Every year, it's a new team," said Maurice. "I know a lot of these guys have played together. But you have new people; new expectations coming in. We should find some joy in the work. You have to re-establish those bonds. We're trying to fight our way through being a quiet team."

The second-year Jets' bench boss has been asked repeatedly by reporters to judge his team's performance in small segments like the just complete homestand, but the always calm and astute Maurice would rather use 10-game blocks to more effectively get a read on his team's progress or struggles.
Either way, Sunday's win over Central Division foe Colorado showed more promise in an overall team game.

Top line forwards like captain Andrew Ladd and Little both found the scoresheet and the club directed upwards of 80 pucks towards the Avalanche net, 34 of which were blocked.

The victory over the Avs also ended a homestand where the emergence of some of the team's prized future started to noticeably become more impactful.

For the most part, the play of NHL sophomores Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele has been solid and consistent. Although Trouba (0-0-0) has yet to record a point and Scheifele has only two points in eight games, both players have been effective for all the right reasons. The pair are either creating chances that haven't been converted to points or controlling elements of the game with and without the puck.

Moreover, rookie Adam Lowry's play at centre through the first three weeks of the season has also been considered progressive. This is especially soothing for an organization stringent on its draft and develop philosophy.

At just 21 years old, the Calgary product is among the team leaders in hits and has found his way into anchoring the third line with a variety of wingers thus far. He scored his first NHL goal in a 3-1 win over Carolina (Oct. 21) and has averaged well over 11 minutes of ice time per game – a number that's most certainly going to increase as contests tick off the docket.

"We're young but those guys are part of our team drive," said Maurice. "For the two of them anyway, the guys that have put a full year in the NHL when their names are going down, they're going down in the same mindset as Little and Ladd and these other guys. They're all in the same group for me. Those three guys are key pieces. They're all in that same group for me."

Naturally, there was some chatter about the second-year stumble or sophomore jinx with respect to both Scheifele and Trouba entering this season. But out of the gate, both have shown no indication that the league has caught up to them or they enjoyed any sort of beginner's luck a year ago.

"Both of them have a real good understanding of the game," said Maurice. "We're not in a teaching curve for two or three years. They get this stuff real quick.

"For me, Jacob Trouba is not just back to where he was last year. He's starting to look even stronger on the ice."

To close out October, the Jets venture on the road for four games beginning Tuesday on Long Island against the upstart Islanders (6-2).

If this eastern sojourn can produce anything like a .500 or better record, it should serve Winnipeg well in moving ahead with the improvement the organization is striving toward.

The trip continues with stops in New Jersey (Thursday), Madison Square Garden (Saturday) and concludes in Chicago (Sunday).

NOTES: Injured forward Evander Kane made the trip with the team. A timetable for his return is still uncertain but Maurice indicated on Monday morning they're shooting for a return to game action after the road trip. He's still on what the team calls "IR skates" but as the week moves along, it's expected he'll start to participate in regular practice and physical contact drills.

Bryan Little leads the team with five goals. He has one on the power play, another short-handed and a game-winner. Speaking of the team's power play, it currently ranks third-last in the league with only one tally on 28 chances.

After a forgettable plus-minus year last season for Dustin Byfuglien (minus-20), the power forward leads the club on the positive side of the ledger this year at plus-4. In two previous attempts this season, the Jets have yet to win back-to-back games this season. That could end Tuesday against on the Island.