At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Jets head coach Claude Noel took a pause. His father was in the Second World War, he said, and he told the Jets he thought marking the memory was important.
"You have to find the time out of respect," he said. "I made a note of it for our players, for all of us to take some time. We talked about it today."
But time marches on and the NHL must too, and so this morning’s schedule was a brisk one for the Jets. A handful of players skated through drills in the morning at an optional skate at MTS Centre. The rest prepared to hop a plane this afternoon for Detroit, where they’ll face the Red Wings on Tuesday night.
They leave Winnipeg riding high: three games won out of the last four, with a thrilling come-from-behind shoot-out win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. "I’d like us to go into Detroit with a mindset of expecting to win," Noel said. "That’s a large comment, especially from where we’ve come from. But I mean that in the context of building on the confidence we’ve built within ourselves."
On that confidence: with a recent burst of offense and some scrappy wins, the Jets are laughing a whole lot more around the rink, defenceman Grant Clitsome said. After all the meetings of the lackluster opening weeks, all the talk around practice and the games, it’s a welcome shot of mirth.
"It’s always a lot more fun coming to the rink when you’re winning," said Clitsome, who picked up three points in Sunday’s win, as fellow blueliner Dustin Byfuglien playfully called at him from outside the Jets dressing room. "I think it’s good, it’s a nice change, a little breath of fresh air. Hopefully we can keep it rolling."
Oh, you know, but someone has to chip in with a little reality: this is not a team without its glaring flaws. The most obvious, on the books, is the league-worst power play, now operating at just 8.8 per cent. The Jets were fruitless again last night, going zip-for-two.
Noel thought the chances looked a little improved against the Sharks, but looks aren’t goals. "Some things were happening at the net that were better," he said. "What happens in cases like this… there’s a lot of raw emotions that’s not good, that gets projected there, because it’s a factor in games. People really start to grip things, the more tension you bring to it, the more pressure builds and mounts."
Bottom line? "We’re not happy with it, we recognize it, we know it, we see it, we hear about it. All the time," he said. "We’re doing the best we can to get it on the right track. There’s not much more I can say than that. People are losing sleep over this."
Does that include the coach? "I lose sleep over a lot of things," he said. "But I’m not losing sleep right now. That’s what winning does."