WINNIPEG – Claude Noel says a four-day break was just what his Winnipeg Jets needed before making one final push for the playoffs.
“I think it’s good for us,” the head coach said Tuesday. “It seems like it’s been really busy for us and really constant and the break is actually kind of a welcome . . . breath of fresh air for us.”
The Jets (32-29-8) badly need a win when they host the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. Two road losses and wins by their competition in the Eastern Conference have seen the team fall to 10th place in the standings.
“There’s a lot of need to win,” said Noel.
He was feeling confident based on the enthusiasm he saw in practice Monday and Tuesday.
“It should lend itself to be energized in the game tomorrow, especially here at home with the fans,” said Noel.
Top-scoring defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was so enthusiastic he broke the glass behind the net at the MTS Iceplex practice facility Tuesday, leaving one of the packed house of spectators with a minor cut on her forehead.
Byfuglien is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday but fellow blue-liner Zach Bogosian is going to be a game-day decision as he recovers from another injury.
The Jets fan-favourite fourth line of Tanner Glass, Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn—the so-called GST line—is also missing its T with Thorburn gone for several games due to injury. Eric Fehr is expected to take his place.
The Jets are up against a tough opponent in the Stars, who were went into Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota riding a 9-0-1 record in their last 10 games. The Jets have fallen to 5-3-2 in their last 10, thanks to back-to-back losses in Vancouver and Calgary.
Before Tuesday night’s games, the Dallas line of Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder was the most productive in the NHL in the previous 30 days with a total of 43 points. No one else was even close.
But there is a bright side for the Jets. The Stars are just 1-9-2 on the second day of back-to-back games.
And the Jets have consistently played their best hockey at home with a record of 21-10-4.
Centre Bryan Little says the team is anxious to get back to the MTS Centre and start accumulating points.
“A few days off and you take a look at the standings and you know we’ve dropped out by a few points,” he said. “I think that’s the longest we’ve gone in a long time without playing a game. It seems like forever and I think we’re all eager to get back at it.”