Jets must break bad habits
Club need more than one win to prove they've righted ship
KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Jets forward Tanner Glass collides with Penguins defenceman Deryk Engelland at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Man., Oct. 17, 2011. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)
WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets finally got their first win on Monday night, so they no doubt showed up to practice on Tuesday morning with some pep in their step for practice before heading out on a two-game road trip to Ontario.
“Not really,” head coach Claude Noel said when asked if he liked his team’s workout before it departed for Toronto in advance of Wednesday night’s clash against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.
“It was more (lack of) execution and other things, but it takes a while to break people of some habits,” Noel said. “I do get that, too.”
In the famous words of Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice, so no big deal. The players can put smiles back on their coaches’ faces with a win over the Leafs, who have yet to lose in regulation this season.
The Jets will then meet the Senators in Ottawa on Thursday night before coming back home to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.
“We gotta get ourselves back on the positive side of the ledger,” said Noel, whose squad is 1-3. “If we’re going to be a 96-point team, we gotta get over .500. So there’s going to be urgency. We’re going on the road, and both are teams that are in the East that if we’re going to be one of the top eight teams, they end up being four-point games.
“So you gotta take ’em. You gotta take ’em, but you can’t take them giving up a point. You gotta take ’em clean. That’s going to be important.”
Fourth-line spark plug Chris Thorburn believes now is not the time for the Jets to rest on their laurels. He’s got that right.
“We’ve got to be better than we were against Pittsburgh,” Thorburn said. “Although it was a good game, there are some things we can clean up and sharpen up. We’re going to have to do that against Toronto, because they’re doing really well right now. They’ve got a great lineup. It’s going to be a good test for us.”
Even though they’re coming off a big win that had the crowd roaring on Monday night, the Jets still needed a strong performance from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who needed support from his posts a couple of times.
Toss in the fact the power play has yet to score a goal this season and there is still plenty for Jets fans to fret about.
Another loss or two on this road trip would have the team in even greater depths of despair than it was in after the first three debacles.
And any time the top line wants to produce more than one goal, the coaching staff and the fans probably wouldn’t mind.
Maybe playing on the big stage in Toronto will bring out their best.
“It’s a little more business class than here, but it’s always fun to go there and play,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. “It’s the hockey hotbed, and it’s fun to be around there.
“There’s such a big following for the Leafs wherever you go, so it’s always fun to go back there. And we’ve got a few guys from that area, so it’ll be exciting for them, too.”
The Leafs, meanwhile, are looking forward to facing a “new” team and are expecting their best.
“I was six years old (when the Jets left for Phoenix),” defenceman Luke Schenn said. “No memories for me. It’s cool. I’m looking forward to it. They had a big win (Monday) night, and they will be coming out hard.”