October 25, 2011
Jets not intimidated by roadTeam enters seven-game excursion
By Ken Wiebe ,QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - A trip like this would be viewed as daunting at the best of times.
But as the Winnipeg Jets are trying to find their way in the early stages of the NHL season, they’re embracing the challenges that a season-long seven-game road trip could present.
“We don’t fear going on the road. We just have to continue doing things the right way,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel, whose club fell to 2-5-1 on Monday after a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers. “The biggest challenge is to find ways to win. I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. Sometimes you’re going to get results like this. That’s just the way it goes.”
The Jets open the trip on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Arena and are looking for their first road win after opening 0-3-1 away from MTS Centre.
“If we’re going to be a playoff team — which I think we’re capable of doing — you’re going to have to win on the road and your target has to be being a .500 team and we’re a little ways away from that,” Noel said. “We’ve got to win one and then go from there.”
The Flyers sit second in the Atlantic Division with a record of 5-2-1 but will be without defenceman Chris Pronger after he took a stick in the eye from Mikhail Grabovksi in Monday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“We’re starting to see what type of game we have to play to put ourselves in a situation where we can win,” Jets defenceman Johnny Oduya said on Monday. “We need to keep playing the same way. Getting (more) pucks in the net is going to be key.”
GOOD NEWS: Noel told reporters on Tuesday that centre Jim Slater is close to returning from an upper-body injury that kept him out of Monday’s game.
Slater, who has three goals in six games this season, missed most of the second half of last season with a concussion and some feared he may have suffered another after taking a knee to the head from Carolina Hurricanes forward Brandon Sutter on Saturday.
“He’s a good player and a dependable guy for us,” Noel said. “He plays with some heart.”
ICECAPS UPDATE: The Jets’ American Hockey League affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, are off to a good start this season, posting a 4-1-1 record to leave Keith McCambridge’s team in a first-place tie with the Providence Bruins for top spot in the Atlantic Division standings.
“They’re doing some good things,” Noel said. “There are some people (McCambridge) likes and there are some people he’s trying to coach, just like all of us. He’s doing a good job.”
Winger Carl Klingberg leads the IceCaps in scoring with six goals (no assists) in six games, while former Manitoba Moose centre Marco Rosa has two goals and five points. IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray has two goals.
As for the Manitobans on the IceCaps roster, Jason Gregoire has a goal and two assists, while Kevin Clark and Shayne Wiebe have two assists.