WINNIPEG – Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel isn’t beating himself or his team up over their 7-1 drubbing in Detroit Saturday.
But he isn’t watching any replays of the last two periods of the game either.
“Sometimes, when you’re younger, you forget that you’ve done so well,” he said after Monday’s practice at the MTS Centre.
Before hitting Detroit, the Jets—one of the youngest teams in the NHL—had won eight of their last 10 games and only lost one in regulation time.
“We need to get back to winning and that will be our challenge tomorrow,” Noel said. “It will be a good team and we know that we’ve played good teams and won so we have to find a way to do it tomorrow.”
The problem is, that means they will have to beat the Minnesota Wild, currently the top team in the NHL. The Jets are 9-4-0 at the MTS Centre but are just 4-8-4 on the road.
Minnesota comes to Winnipeg with a league-leading record of 20-7-3. While the Jets won’t see much of the Wild in 2011-’12, next season they’ll be in the same conference.
“Detroit’s going to be in our conference too,” said Bryan Little, who scored Winnipeg’s only goal in the blowout loss in Detroit.
“It’s going to be tough next year so we’ve got to learn how to play against these teams.”
Scoring first has been one of the things the Jets have relied on as they turned around a slow start to climb into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Noel says he reviewed the first period of their loss to Detroit and liked some of what he saw. Little scored his 10th goal of the season just 35 seconds in to get things started.
The Red Wings had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes and scored three goals in the second period to put the game out of reach.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd—at 26, a veteran on the youthful squad—said he’s over the loss and is focused on the Wild, adding Minnesota has used a team-first approach to defy expectations.
“They play as a group of five, they defend as a group of five, and to beat a team like that you’ve got to be skating, you’ve got to be working,” he said, just after dodging a shaving cream pie his teammates tried to send his way to mark his birthday.
Little said the Jets failed to follow through on what they started in the first period in Detroit. He added they can’t do that against good teams and expect to win.
“We just made too many mistakes against a team like that … they just played a smarter, overall better game than us.”