Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nobody happy after one gets away

This group capable, but has to show it

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NEWARK, N.J. -- The Winnipeg Jets are in position to make some good things happen, but not if they continue to play as they have of late.

The Jets ended a four-game road trip Sunday with a 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils and picked up a point in the doing. That resulted in five points out of a possible eight on the road swing for the Jets.

But no one was particularly happy in the Jets dressing room following the game, as they felt they'd let an opportunity slip away.

A regulation win over the Devils would have vaulted Winnipeg into eighth in the conference for the final playoff spot in the East. Instead, the Jets sit ninth today with 26 points and a 12-11-2 record.

"I would say we played one-and-a-half good games out of four, if I'm being honest. I didn't like our first game, I didn't like our third game and I only liked half of this game," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd.

Winnipeg now has 23 games left on the schedule and 14 of them are at home. They've hung around into the second half of the season and will define themselves as faders or closers over the final stretch.

Winnipeg was terrible on the road last season but have an 8-5-2 record away from home this season. The record at the MTS Centre, however, is troubling at 4-6-0.

"Our problem at home is we've been trying to do too much, and that's gotten us into trouble. On the road, we've had success keeping things simple," said Ladd.

Jets coach Claude Noel saw very little positives in his team's performance Sunday and wondered aloud about their slow start.

"How we start like that is unbelievable. We battled back to get a point, but they travelled while we sat here and rested. We didn't come out a little flat, we came out a lot flat," Noel said. "I didn't think we had a lot of good players. I thought we struggled in a lot of areas."

Noel did allow that Ondrej Pavelec was strong in goal and pointed to his and Al Montoya's play as why the Jets were able to scrape up points despite mostly poor play.

"We come out being 2-1-1, so it points to where our goaltending has been in these games," Noel said. "We can't expect to play that way as a group and get points. If we're going to be a team that's going to be above the line, we're going to have to get better performances."

Noel said the Jets' current play can't last if they want to take advantage of where they are in the standings.

"We have to decide how we're going to play this thing. We're going to have to play a lot better," he said. "Home is a place with great fan support and passion. We're going to have to take advantage of that." Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 11, 2013 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


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