It seems oh-so-close but the Winnipeg Jets’ lack of killer instinct in the last 10 days has been very costly.
The Jets, 3-2 shootout losers to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, have lost five in a row, though they have taken three of those games into extra time.
And the task isn’t getting any easier. Friday, the New York Rangers are in town, followed Sunday by the Dallas Stars, the current occupants of the final Western Conference playoff spot and five points ahead.
The Jets’ next four games are against teams presently bound for the playoffs.
"I think the last five games we’ve been right there," Jets centre Olli Jokinen said today at the MTS Iceplex, where his team held a practice for just nine skaters. "A lot of close games. A few weeks ago before the break we were able to win those one-goal games."
Winnipeg is now 17-12-9 in one-goal games this season and an argument can be made that the team hasn’t played a game that wasn’t really close in two months — the last being a 5-2 laugher victory in Calgary on Jan. 16.
Jokinen said there’s only looking ahead for the Jets.
"I think as a team and as a player when you start running out of games, you’ve got to stay focused and stay the course," he said. "Whatever happens the shift before you, try to bounce back on the next shift because there’s always the possibility you can do something good. I think there’s no reason to be tight right now.
"The coach was telling us last game that you’ve got to play to win, not to be afraid to lose. I think that’s one of the things that we’ve got to go out there and play with confidence and if there’s a mistake, then just bounce back. You just work hard and the mistake, that’s part of hockey, part of the game and it happens all the time. The biggest thing is how you react after."