IF the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem, then the Winnipeg Jets are on their way to rehab.
To their credit, the Jets players did not even try to sugar-coat a lacklustre 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the MTS Centre Tuesday night, using words like "embarrassing" and "lowpoint" to describe a loss that extended Winnipeg’s current losing streak to a season-long four games.
Winnipeg was hopelessly outshot in this one — 33-14 — and multiple Jets players expressed contrition to the fans who showed up at MTS Centre on a bitterly cold night to watch a home team that didn’t.
"We have to realize the people pay (for) tickets to see this one," said goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who was the best of a bad Jets lot on this night.
"If I’m a fan tonight, I wouldn’t be happy, that’s for sure... It’s embarrassing."
Perhaps the only Jets fans who were happy on this night were the surprising number who appeared to stay home. While it’s become an open secret in recent months that tickets to Jets games aren’t nearly as scarce as they once were, there were still some raised eyebrows at the surprising number of seats, particularly in the 100 and 200 levels, that remained empty all night.
Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom, who made a rare appearance in front of the media, was blunt in his assessment of his team’s performance and hinted that a hard reckoning may be on its way. "I don’t know what kind of words describe this game, but it’s definitely not good enough," said Enstrom. "It’s frustrating right now.
"This team as a group has some stuff to figure out coming up here. Every game is important and we can’t have games like this. Our goalie played great for us and all the players have to chip in."
The loss dropped the Jets’ season record to 19-22-5, good for last in the Central Division and 12th in the 14team Western Conference.
With that dire situation as a backdrop, Jets head coach Claude Noel agreed that a reckoning is on its way.
"Obviously there’s some things that have to be assessed here," Noel told reporters.
"I will look at the team and look at the tape and watch and try to figure out where we go from here — discuss it with the staff and figure out where we go from here.
"How do we move forward? We have to take steps in the right direction.
This wasn’t a day where we took a step in that direction.
"My first look is going to be in the mirror. You can’t always look at everyone else — you have to look within first. We’ve played some good games — this was not one of them.
"I’m going to try to keep this in balance, but this is an evening where there feels like there is no balance for me. But we’ll keep it in perspective. We’re going to have to move past this and move forward, but there’s going to have to be a lot of assessment to be done here."
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