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Confidence dwindling after five straight losses

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THERE is the black-and-white evidence that is easy to decipher during the Winnipeg Jets' current five-game nosedive.

The goals against, the turnovers, the lousy Corsi ratings, the missed chances and the brain cramps too numerous to outline are all there for everyone to see and spend an evening cursing at over and again.

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But Claude Noel and a few of this team's leaders will also admit to something that isn't as easy to quantify: Right now the Jets' collective confidence level is barely measurable, arguably as low as it has been since this team relocated from Atlanta.

"It's not easy right now," said centre Bryan Little after Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. "It's tough to stay positive and it's kinda hurting everyone's confidence right now.

"The fans get on you... it's not easy. It's a difficult time we're trying to get through."

The Jets were booed off the ice following the loss, a defeat which dropped them to 19-23-5. Worth noting: In their rebirth the Jets have been four games under .500 only once -- following a 2-1 loss to Columbus back on Nov. 12, 2011.

"There's going to be no easy way out of this thing," said Noel. "It's going to be two things for me. We're going to have to work our way out of it and our focus is going to have to be excellent. And that's every day, practice, games.

"You look at some of the mistakes that were made... woooo. We've never done this. Why would we do this now? What is that? Why is that?"

The Jets were credited with 13 giveaways Saturday night by the NHL stats crew, but the mental mistakes were just as plentiful. This is a team struggling to make the simplest of plays, let alone those that can positively turn a game.

"In the first I thought we played with some energy and accomplished what we tried to do," Noel said. "We missed some great chances and weren't able to make it, at least in the first period, more than 1-0. That would have really helped us.

"The game certainly unravelled in the second period on mistakes that were stuff I have never seen before. And then the third period was the third period, and some of the stuff we saw was a little wild.

"Some of the breakdowns... we haven't done this stuff all year."

The Jets are back on the ice today before playing host to Phoenix Monday night. They then head out for a stretch of seven of their next 11 on the road.

Noel's challenge in the short term, clearly, is to get his crew to believe again.

"It's not because they don't care, let's make sure that's clear," he said. "They're frustrated, too. We're going to try and resolve it, but it's not going to be easy. We'll get it done.

"Tomorrow's another day. We play shortly and we'll get it back going again. It's not going to be easy. We know that."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 12, 2014 B3

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