The Winnipeg Jets are eager to put together a winning campaign for a rabid fan base that seems content just to have a National Hockey League (NHL) franchise to call their own after a 15-year absence.
For a team that received a standing ovation by fans during the final minutes of a 5-1 season-opening loss at home to the Montreal Canadiens, it appears the Jets can do no wrong.
But while the honeymoon between the team and its fan base seems likely to last a long time regardless of their record, the Jets, who failed to win a playoff game when they were the Atlanta Thrashers, have a goal of making the postseason.
I know they are happy to get the team back but we are not just happy to be back and if we lose, we lose, Jets goalie Chris Mason told reporters ahead of Wednesday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
We want to win and we want to make the playoffs. Last year was a terribly disappointing year and we don't want that to happen again.
Atlanta had one of the league's worst records last season and expectations for the franchise's re-launch in Winnipeg for the 2011-12 NHL campaign are rather muted given a young roster that lacks depth.
The original Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996, leaving the western Canadian city without an NHL team until Winnipeg's True North Sports and Entertainment bought a money-losing Thrashers team after last season and moved them north.
The Jets opened the 2011-12 NHL season with three straight losses in which they were outscored by a combined 13-5 margin before getting a win in their fourth game, a 2-1 victory over a Pittsburgh Penguins team that leads the Atlantic division.
While the fan base is happy to have their beloved Jets back home, many Winnipeg players admit to feeling added pressure to deliver a winning season to a city that has been starved of NHL action for so long and snapped up all 13,000 season tickets within minutes in a frenzy of anticipation.
You go out there every night in home games and if you lose it's a bad feeling because it feels like you let the whole city down, said Bryan Little, who spent the last four seasons with the Thrashers and had not been to Winnipeg until this year.
As players, there is a bit more pressure because we don't want to go out there and be mediocre and miss the playoffs again. We want to go out there and give the fans something to cheer about and give them wins.
Along with the pressure of delivering a winning season to a loyal fan base, many Jets players are also quickly learning how to handle the huge media following that is rare so early in the season for a team without much star power.
Following their morning skate on Wednesday, the Jets were greeted to a locker room packed with members of the media all asking about the change from playing in front of sparse crowds in Atlanta to a sold-out arena in Winnipeg.
The players seemed to agree that getting recognized while out shopping for groceries in Winnipeg and having their games nationally televised fires them up to perform.
It kind of helps raise your game a bit because there is more pressure, said Little. But at the same time there is more pressure so if you are in a slump or the team is not doing well there is going to be more of a microscope on you.