They may appear different on paper but new Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice sees some similarities in Saturday’s foes at the MTS Centre, the Edmonton Oilers.
The Jets have won two in a row in Maurice’s short time on the job. The Oilers have dropped three straight, including Thursday’s 4-1 setback in Minnesota, and have two wins in the last nine.
"We’re two really young teams that have to learn the hard lessons, that have to learn the hard things to do in a hockey game, not even learn, has to get to like them," Maurice said after today’s practice downtown.
"Learning them’s easy. Doing them, reluctantly, that’s when you’re whipping them, it’s how do we get our team to like the hard parts of this game.
"Individually, I’ve got nothing to add that you haven’t heard, they’ve got some brilliant speed, some brilliant skill and much like our team, hopefully not tomorrow, there are times you look at them and go, ‘Wow,’ and times you’re going, ‘Wow.’ "
The Oilers, at 15-30-5, has 35 points and sit at the bottom of the 14-team Western Conference.
The Jets aren’t much higher at 47 points from 21-23-5, 12th in the conference.
Since taking over from Claude Noel late Sunday, Maurice has seen the Jets dump Phoenix 5-1 and score a 5-2 win in Calgary Thursday night.
"Don’t get too excited about the tally (of goals) in two games," the coach said today. "The best parts of our game have been in blocks in our end."
In the week, the Jets have jumped a couple of spots in the NHL’s defensive rankings but at 22nd, but still sit in the league’s worst 10 in goals against average at 2.88 per game.