WASHINGTON, D.C. — They spent the day licking their wounds and vowing to be ready Friday night in a game that could determine their playoff fate.
That’s how the Winnipeg Jets spent Thursday after arriving in the U.S. capital just hours after Tuesday’s 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that opened up some serious concerns about their push for a playoff spot. Winnipeg has now lost two straight heading into Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals — four points head of the Jets and holding down eighth-spot in the Eastern Conference.
Andrew Ladd, Toby Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien were all held out of practice to deal with some bumps and bruises while Eric Fehr, who is with the team, did not participate either.
"I never watched the tape back from last night and my thoughts today aren’t really much different than last night," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "The game was what it was. It was a hard situation to stop. I may take time today to look at the game, parts of the game. I gotta dig in and just take a look... I mean, you’ve got to give them credit. They’re a good team and that doesn’t change today."
That was part of the sales job the Jets tried to pitch on Wednesday: the Penguins are good, darn good, and may just be the Stanley-Cup favourites now that Sidney Crosby has returned. And while the Jets fear no opponent, it was obvious after the fact that they had their eyes opened as to the Pens’ overall talent.
Indeed, if Pittsburgh is the measuring stick, then the Jets have some serious ground to make up to reach contender status.
"We knew that before the game... I mean, you look at their lineup and Crosby is the third-line centre," said Tanner Glass. "They’re a great team, but we gave them too much room in a lot of areas last night and they made us pay for it."
Noel wouldn’t tip his hand as to who will start in goal against the Caps, but it seems likely he’ll return to Ondrej Pavelec even though he was yanked in the loss to Pittsburgh and replaced by Chris Mason.
"There’s no reason to make changes," said Noel. "I’m not disgruntled at any of the goalies. They do their job. They’re good."