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Noel sees good things

With some teaching, practice, Jets will contend

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Through 10 games of their season the Winnipeg Jets have been inconsistent above all else, but coach Claude Noel likes his team.

 "I know a little bit and I’m getting some information. There are some things I like. The other side of that is you can see the areas where we have to improve," said Noel, chatting with the Winnipeg media at a Fort Lauderdale hotel on Sunday.

 "Things are becoming more clear in our play and it tells me we are doing some good things, but also, that we have a lot of teaching to do in establishing the way we want to play. It doesn’t come natural. We’ve practised a little bit but not much of late and that’s going to be the equation now that we must solve. How do we get our team to embrace the changes and to play the way we want them to play with just a little practice time? We’re playing seven games in 13 days and we don’t have a lot of time for practice."

The Jets are 3-6-1 coming off a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night and will play their Southeast Division rival Florida Panthers tonight. Noel gave his club the day off on Sunday and will spend a good amount of time today prior to the game working with players via video instruction.

 "I think our guys are good and the teaching gets through with video. We’ll have a big day of teaching (Monday) and get ready for Florida. We’ll do special teams in the morning and then the regular game prep in the evening."

 Noel says the style of game he wants his team to play requires an adjustment.

 "It’s clear the way we want to play — fast and quick. We have to get our defencemen more involved in the play and it doesn’t come natural to the group. It’s something we’ll have to practise a lot. Our D-zone support and our helping of one another is an area we have to improve. Some of that is communication and some of that is positional," said Noel. "But it will take time. We just have to keep pushing through. Video is good but you don’t get the same muscle memory that you get from practise."

 Noel says one area of concern is the amount of time his team spends in its own end.

 "We spend time in our zone that I don’t believe we need to spend. We get the puck and then we’re not managing it well, whether it’s turnovers or support. It takes teaching and I’m being patient."

 The Jets will play 37 games in 74 days dating back to their second game of the season on Oct. 15 and running up to Dec. 31, leaving very little time to practise.

 "You have to pour everything into the games because you can’t lose sight of winning games. The schedule is what it is, that’s the NHL," said Noel.

 "As long as our group is willing to learn and want to get better and win and do the proper things, I don’t have a problem. I sense that we’re all going in the right direction and I’m happy with that."

 gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

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