WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will have to be road warriors if they want to escape the depths of the Eastern Conference.
On Thursday, the 2-5-1 Jets kick off a seven-game road trip—their longest of the season—in Philadelphia. The trip includes two games in Florida, three in the New York City area and a finale in Buffalo.
The Jets are 0-3-1 and have been outscored 16-8 in four games away from the MTS Centre. But head coach Claude Noel says he hasn’t seen much difference between his team’s play at home and away.
“I think we’ve played fairly well on the road,” Noel said after practice Wednesday. “We just haven’t won. The only thing we need to do is play with a little more discipline and continue playing the same way. We’ll get our results that we’re looking for.”
By the time the Jets play their next home game on Nov. 10, nearly one-fifth of the season will be in the books. With five points through their first eight games, they find themselves ahead of only Montreal in the Eastern Conference.
Still Noel isn’t about to overstate the importance of the sequence away from home.
“I don’t look at this road trip as a make it or break it,” the coach said. “You’ve got 82 games you’ve got to play, and you’re going to go through pockets of adversity during the season. We have to play well and we have to get some results, and this is a good place for us to start.”
Alexander Burmistrov, the 20-year-old forward who leads the team with seven points, said getting away from the local media attention in Winnipeg could help the team relax.
“Sometimes you focus too much on (what you hear on) the radio,” Burmistrov said.”On the road you can just cool down and be ready for the game.
“The pressure is on us a lot. We’ve lost lots of games, so we just need to go in there, (keep it) simple and win the game.”
Jets captain Andrew Ladd is taking the approach that an extended trip could help by providing more opportunities for team bonding. He said going to the same restaurants and relaxing on the Florida beaches could be beneficial.
“It’s fun to get out on the road sometimes and see some different cities,” Ladd said. “We’ve got some time in Florida to spend together and do some team stuff so that should be good.”
Before the Jets get to the beach, they’ll be facing a Flyers squad that is without defensive stalwart Chris Pronger, who took a stick to the eye on Monday night.
“Obviously (Pronger is) one of the top D in the league,” Ladd said, “and any time he’s not in the lineup it’s a little easier. But at the same time they still have some great players back there in (Kimmo) Timonen and (Braydon) Coburn, (Matt) Carle and guys like that.”
Noel echoed his captain’s assessment of the Flyers.
“They know how to win. Even without Pronger they’re a strong team.”