It was the morning after the long night before and the consensus in the Winnipeg Jets dressing room remained pretty much what it was Thursday night after a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks -- too many Jets players took the night off.
And that, says Jets head coach Claude Noel, is -- and should be -- unacceptable not just to him, but to Winnipeg hockey fans too.
"What I like about the passion here is they just want us to work the right way. They’d like us to win -- they’d like us to win the Stanley Cup, yes. But realistically, people in Winnipeg just want to be proud of what we’ve got. Is that asking too much? Not in my view," Noel told reporters following practice at MTS Centre this morning.
"And that’s what I wrestle with -- why can’t we just do that?"
Both Noel and Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Thursday night that the Jets did not put forth a complete team effort against the Blackhawks, with predictable results -- their third straight loss this season to Chicago.
And it emerged following practice this morning that Noel and Ladd weren’t the only ones who thought some of their teammates had come along for the ride as passengers against Chicago.
"It kind of feels like the same movie over and over again from the last couple years," said Blake Wheeler. "You get some guys going, a couple guys aren’t going. You get a couple different guys going, then a couple of different guys aren’t going. I’m not sitting here acting like I’m on my A-game a hundred per cent of the time because that’s not the case.
"But when you’re not going, it’s up to you to find a way to get your game back in check. And for the most part we have a group of players that’s able to to do that. You have to be professional and find a way to get the most out of yourself. And when you’re not doing that, it’s time to look in the mirror and figure out how you do that.
"Because we’re a team that relies on every person in this room. We’re not a team that can rely on just one or two guys to carry us. It hasn’t worked in the past and it’s not going to work in the future. We need to get everyone on the same page going forward. Because when we do that, we’re a pretty good damn team...
"And if you’re not able to do that, then this isn’t the league to be playing in."
The Jets won’t have to wait long for a chance at redemption -- they play Saturday afternoon at home against another division rival in the Minnesota Wild.
Noel said Jets defenceman Mark Stuart -- who missed 10 games with an injured hip -- will return to the Jets lineup against Minnesota. But another Jets defenceman -- Dustin Byfuglien -- is now a question mark.
Byfuglien -- who has six goals in the last six games -- did not practice this morning and Noel said he got "banged up" versus Chicago. Noel said he didn’t know the extent of Byfuglien’s injury. "I know your next question is will be be a player tomorrow. I don’t know that either," said Noel. "But I’m anticipating he will be."
Meanwhile, Jets winger Devin Setoguchi left practice early today when he got struck in the face by a puck shot by linemate Evander Kane. Setoguchi had a nasty welt on his cheek after practice but said he’s fine and expects to play on Saturday.