Noel: Jets need more A games

Jets head coach Claude Noel says the next few games are important to make up ground in the...

Jets head coach Claude Noel says the next few games are important to make up ground in the standings. (Brian Donogh/QMI Agency)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:52 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The winning needs to start now for the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets will kick off a stretch in which they play 12 of their next 15 at home. The New York Islanders, who are four points behind them in the Eastern Conference, are first up at MTS Centre on Tuesday night.

“This next pocket of games, it’s pretty obvious it’s important,” Jets head coach Claude Noel said after Tuesday’s morning skate.

The Jets are making some changes up front, with struggling centre Nik Antropov dropping from the second to the fourth line. Alex Burmistrov will take Antropov’s spot against the Islanders.

“He hasn’t played in the middle for a while. That’ll be new for him. I think he sees himself as a centre. I’d like to see Burmistrov play a more straight line game, and he knows that,” Noel said.

“Antropov is a good player, and he’s going to continue to be a good player. He’s a guy that we need to play and perform well, and he knows that. We all know that. This thing will all work itself out. Right now we need more A games. That’s the bottom line.”

The Jets are four points out of eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, but they really want to finish first in the Southeast Division, which would give them the third seed. The Florida Panthers are seven points up on the Jets and have two games in hand.

The Islanders are still in the Eastern Conference mix as well.

“They’re a real methodical team,” Noel said. “I see them playing their system. They’re patient. They get a lot out of their top line.”

The Isles will be without St. Malo native Travis Hamonic, a defenceman who suffered a broken nose last week when he was hit in the face with a puck on a shot from the point.


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