DETROIT — Winnipeg Jets’ coach Claude Noel frequently talks about playing the right way.
Noel ought to keep handy the video of Saturday night’s NHL game at Joe Louis Arena, where the Detroit Red Wings schooled the Jets to the tune of 7-1.
The Wings and their wizard-like puck movement, after an iffy first few shifts, lit up Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec like a Christmas tree, flashing and twinkling included.
"I don’t know if I need to see it twice — I’ve seen it," Noel said after the shellacking abruptly halted the Jets’ four-game winning streak. "I’ll sit on the plane and try to decide where we go next, how we’ll deal with this.
"You want to do the right thing. I’m not sure how I’ll make that assessment. I’ve seen some it between periods. It was awful.
"What it was was the mental breakdowns. And sometimes that’s directly related to certain things. That’s the disappointing part, the mental breakdowns. We were defending well up to this point."
A commitment to defending is one of the main reasons the Jets have climbed above the .500 mark, now at 13-12-4.
It was a limited category for the Jets against the 18-9-1 Wings, who have now won nine in a row at home.
"Even the first period we were OK," Noel lamented. "I didn’t like the way we weren’t protecting inside the dots but we still got out of it 2-1.
"We’ve got to regroup on Monday and go for there."
Today will be an off day for the Jets, and Tuesday, the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild play at the MTS Centre.
Saturday, matters didn’t appear that dire after the first period, though Detroit’s go-ahead goal late in the period was a disaster of a combination — a terrible line change matched up with a Henrik Zetterberg shot that went right underneath Pavelec.
"All five guys can’t change there," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "We have to have someone at least holding that far side, hold them up a little bit. To give Zetterberg a slapshot, a one-timer, from the top of the circle, that’s a pretty dangerous thing.
"Another mental error; we went wrong there."
The way the Jets have played recently, that shouldn’t have been a mountain.
But it was.
Awareness was a particular Jets weakness on Saturday.
Defenders were poor at picking up Detroit threats around Pavelec and the Wings, with their heady attack, scored a pair of second-period goals when changing players skated right into the play and had clear, in-alone plays at Pavelec while his teammates just weren’t looking.
Jiri Hudler had the first of those goals at 4:03, when the only one who took notice of him was teammate Johan Franzen.
Forty seconds later little Chris Conner got credit for a pass that went off defenceman Randy Jones’ skate and that was that.
"I think the biggest thing was they made it 3-1, the wind certainly came out of our sails," Noel said. "You could certainly feel the emotional level, for me, really left us quickly.
"When they made it 4-1 (40 seconds later), it was clear we didn’t have a lot there in the game. It was unfortunate, because you try to figure out ways to get this thing back on your side and we were empty. That was a concern."
The crux of it was that early stretch of the second period, Noel said.
"It’s a 60-minute game," he said. "What triggers do you have when things are close? Are you still there? The third goal was a disappointment, then boom, they turned around and scored the fourth goal in 40 seconds. That defined the game for me."
The team’s travel arrangement to Detroit was kind of like an elephant in the room on Saturday.
After beating Carolina at the MTS Centre on Friday night, the Jets didn’t pull into their Detroit hotel until the week hours of Saturday morning.
"in our zone, they did whatever they wanted," Pavelec said. "We looked tired. We played a tough game last night and we got here at 4 o’clock. It’s not an excuse, but it’s fact. We have to forget about this and look forward. We have a lot fo games coming and we’ve got to be ready for the next one."
The travel was not something Noel wanted to hear.
"Was it too big a mountain to climb?" he said. "I don’t know why. But there are no excuses. You can sit and paint this thing up as travel and all that stuff. That’s our job, to find a way to win games."