March 16, 2012
Jets tired of talk about road woes
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - It wouldn't be fair to call the Winnipeg Jets Sybil-like. After all, the young woman depicted in the 1976 movie had at least 13 different personalities.
The Jets are stuck on just two.
And it seems it’s starting to amaze even the players themselves.
When the Jets face the Washington Capitals, Friday, they’ll be trying to record their 23rd home win of the season, which would more than double their output on the road (11-19-4).
Only Edmonton and Columbus, the NHL’s two worst teams, have fewer points on the road than the Jets.
“I personally have never seen it before,” Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. “I’ve been on teams that have played way better on the road than at home. I don’t know. It’s a confidence thing.
“It seems almost, I don’t want to say effortless, but the mindset is that at home we’re going to win.”
No matter how good the team paying a visit, the Jets expect they’ll make them pay.
“There hasn’t been a team that’s come in this building, I don’t care who it is, that’s had their way with us when we play our A-game,” Wheeler said. “That’s something to take a lot of confidence from. It doesn’t really matter what Washington does. If we play a certain way in this building, we’re a tough team to beat.”
So what happens when the Jets get off a plane somewhere other than Manitoba?
“On the road we’re trying our darndest to make it work, and sometimes that’s not a good thing, either,” Wheeler explained. “You try too hard and end up doing things that aren’t really what have gotten you to where you’re at. If we can get a little bit of confidence going on the road and figure out how to win road games, that should come full circle.”
Head coach Claude Noel is getting tired of trying to explain the trend, too.
“I just hope we win on the road so the talk goes away, let’s put it that way,” Noel said.
Then he tipped his cap to the Winnipeg crowds.
“The fans have a lot to do with what we do here. I’m not trying to send a million accolades, but they do deserve some credit. It’s a good place to play. How could you not like playing here?
“There’s an accountability factor at home.”
That said, the Jets know that to be a good team they eventually have to learn to play .500 hockey on the road.
And learn it fast, or their season will end, April 7.
“I don’t fear going on the road,” Noel said. “I don’t think our team does. We look forward to it.”
That statement didn’t cause the coach’s nose to grow.
At least, not noticeably.
After the Capitals, the Jets host Carolina before embarking on a three-game road trip to Pittsburgh, Washington and Nashville.