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Jets need to play 'harder and better': Noel

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WINNIPEG — If the answers are forthcoming as to why the Winnipeg Jets looked so lost in their 4-0 defeat to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at the MTS Centre, Jets coach Claude Noel said that fans will see them as soon as he will.

Will it be in tonight’s rematch here (6 p.m., CBC, TSN1290)?

"The problems with games like that, they beat you up as a coach," Noel said this morning. He cancelled the normal game-day practice and was the sole member of the team to talk to reporters this morning.

"You try to analyze them, over-assess them, do all that stuff, you ask yourself a million questions and try to find the right responses and right answers and sometimes they’re hard to find. I don’t know where it’s going to go.

"We have to be better. At the end of the day, the players won’t be any more happy than I am. At the end of the day, the room has to sort out what it wants to do here and I have to help them."

The Jets, with 34 points, remain on top of the Southeast Division and in the third seed of the Eastern Conference. Carolina is right behind with 32 points and Washington, with 27 points, remains on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

Tonight’s contest is the third game in a four-game homestand. Tampa Bay is here Sunday.

The Caps have won the last two meetings with the Jets, on Winnipeg ice, by an aggregate of 7-0.

"We’ve had games like that this year," Noel said of Thursday’s shutout loss. "Where they come from... how they happen, we’ve had more than I’d like to discuss. Why they happen, I don’t know."

He said no adjustments to the Jets’ gameplan is required.

"There will be no X and O tactical adjustments," he said. "We have to play harder and better. How do you want me to spell it out?"

The coach said he did not address the team this morning and also said there could well be lineup changes tonight. Quizzed further, he sounded doubtful that Mark Stuart, who had a hard collision with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin on Thursday, would play.

That potentially creates an opening for Toby Enstrom, who’s been out since Feb. 15 because of injury but the coach wasn’t specific.

Ondrej Pavelec will be in goal for the Jets tonight, making his ninth straight start.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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