WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets put together what looked like their best game of the season in a victory over the Detroit Red Wings this week.
But now they hope to do it again Wednesday against Chicago—one of the best teams in the NHL—to show they’re on the right path.
“We’ve played one good game,” coach Claude Noel said Tuesday. “We need to prove (to) ourselves that we can become more consistent and try to get ourselves to play another good 60 minutes.”
The Jets beat the Red Wings 4-2 on Monday night. Noel saw some good signs from his young team in the victory.
“We wanted to control the neutral zone a little better against Detroit,” he said. “We wanted to clog up the middle of the ice. I thought we managed to do that well.
“I thought that our breakouts were good from our goal-line and I thought that we were able to get way better dumps and allow us to get on the forecheck.”
The result was a badly needed two points for the Jets (6-8-2), who have been stuck near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. It was also satisfying for their coach and fans to see a consistent effort.
“We ended up with more shots, more offensive zone play … it’s not really reinventing stuff,” Noel said. “It’s just executing the things we talked about before. We finally put all that stuff together. That’s something we’ve been looking for for some time now.”
Winnipeg was coming off a 5-1 loss to Chicago last Saturday.
“We know that we played a good 20 minutes against them,” Jets forward Mark Scheifele said of the loss. “We had a good period, then we kind of got away from our game.”
Scheifele had two assists Monday night but also felt his defensive game was better against Detroit. That was music to Noel’s ears.
“If he was happy with his defensive play, that would be good,” said the coach.
“To contribute you don’t need to only contribute on the scoresheet. It’s really how you play the game … It has to be from a checking standpoint, because that is how eventually you win the game.”
Defensive play is something that the Jets have had trouble with in the past and injuries haven’t helped.
They called up Zach Redmond this week from their St. John’s AHL farm team and grabbed Keaton Ellerby off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings to shore up their defence ranks.
Ellerby barely had time to unpack before finding himself on the ice Monday night.
“I’ve only been here two days so I’m still getting used to the names and faces but for the most part everybody’s been very welcoming,” he said after practice Tuesday.
“From what I saw last night, it’s a fast physical team, move pucks quickly, get pucks to the net. I think that fits in well with my game.”
At six foot five and 221 pounds, he brings size as well as speed, although Monday night was his first game this season.
The Jets also are uncertain whether Evander Kane will play in Chicago. He missed Monday night’s game with an unspecified injury.