WINNIPEG — Catching up is hard to do but it’s what the Winnipeg Jets have in front of them as they embark on a four-game road trip.
Now 7-2-0 since Paul Maurice took over as head coach, the Jets are off to Montreal today and play the Habs Sunday at noon CT (CBC, TSN1290).
Then it’s off to Carolina, Washington and St. Louis before the team’s Olympic breaks begins after the game in Missouri next Saturday afternoon.
The Jets start this trip six points off the pace of the Western Conference’s eighth-place team, the Vancouver Canucks, whom they beat 4-3 Friday night at the MTS Centre.
Twenty-six games remain in the regular season.
"It’s always an opportunity," said Jets rookie defenceman Jacob Trouba. "Hopefully we’ll get a couple of wins and feel good about ourselves going into the break here. Then we can rest up and get ready for a big push after we get back."
Trouba said he’s not fixated on the standings.
"A little here or there; you don’t really focus on it," he said. "You focus on winning games and let the rest take care of itself."
Now with a record of 26-25-5, Winnipeg remains 12th in the Western Conference with 57 points, six back of the Canucks.
"Our next two opponents, especially, have gone through a tough stretch and Montreal, I’m sure, feels they’re just coming out of it and Carolina is rolling," Maurice said after today’s pre-departure practice at the MTS Centre. "So we’re going to get their best and we should be as confident as we deserve to be with our play.
"They’ll be good games. Those next two are going to be very fast, they’ll be up and down the ice and you’re going to have to be in your lanes and on your routes way before the puck changes possession.
"But we’ve got speed and size and there are parts of that we can control, too."
Maurice said there will no discouragement at how difficult it is to make up ground in this race.
"It’s not our sole reason for being here," the coach said. "The two goals from Day 1 — make the playoffs but it’s not going to happen unless we reach our other goal and that’s building a foundation of a game we understand and can continue to play.
"So if you don’t play (it), you’re not making the playoffs anyway. If you do it, and you build it, you have a chance to make the playoffs."
Eric O’Dell was back with the team today after being in Ottawa for a couple of days for the birth of his first child, Isabella.