TAMPA - Jets coach Claude Noel was in as dark a frame of mind this morning as he has been in his time as head coach in Winnipeg.
Noel used words like disturbing and concerning immediately following his team's listless 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
A late flight to Tampa and a restless sleep didn't do much to change Noel's mood when he met with the press at the Jets hotel in downtown Tampa this morning.
"It doesn't feel any better. Nothing feels better today and I'm just trying to find solutions to issues I see with our group," said Noel. "You ask yourself why and these are the challenges you face as a group and they either drive you one way or the other. You have to try and have dialogue with people to see where we're at."
The Jets are now 10-11-1 and sit 11th in the Eastern Conference. They'll meet the 12th place Lightning here on Thursday and try to put a positive spin on this four-game road trip before heading back to South Florida for another game with the Panthers Friday and then north to New Jersey to meet the Devils on Sunday.
Noel says he'll have to turn the page at some point but this loss was not a throwaway and must be studied and acted upon.
"You can't throw that one out at all. We came down early to perform and do some things and then we perform in that fashion, you have to try and sort through it and ask where are we at? It's a concern. But you can't dwell on it. I'll take it to heart and so will some other people but then we have to find a solution and move on," said Noel. "The disappointing thing to me is we can get this done but we keep putting things in our way."
Noel wouldn't hear any talk of his team not being good enough to win at the level required to be a playoff team.
"I think we're good enough. You can argue but you won't convince me. When we play like we can, you can see what we can do. It's no different than Florida. They have less but they play together and have more," said Noel. "When we go into Jersey and New York and play like we can, we prove that we're able. That's the team that I know."
Noel wouldn't make a firm announcement about his goalie for Thursday night but he did state, "it might be time for Pavelec to have a rest," indicating backup goalie Al Montoya may be called upon.
Pavelec has started 10 straight games for the Jets.