December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
It was Fred Shero — the legendary coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, member of the hockey hall of fame and a Winnipegger, to boot — who uttered the famous quote which might be the perfect mantra for Evander Kane and the Winnipeg Jets.
‘Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion," said Shero. "You must first set yourself on fire.’
Led by Kane — who served up another in a series of solid performances this season — and goaltender Al Montoya, the Jets served up a combustible effort in Sunday night’s 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils at MTS Centre that snaps a three-game losing skid and evens their record at 3-3.
Kane scored twice, took a game-high eight shots, and banged out five hits in a win that was the picture of a complete effort by the Jets.
"That’s the way we have to play as a team," said Kane. "(The physical play) brings the emotion out of the game, the intensity and the pace. When everybody’s playing physical it’s hard for referees to call physical penalties. It makes for an intense game and you have to be on your toes and be aware of what’s going on.
"I take it upon myself to be one of the leaders in this room and on the ice. Whatever area I feel I need to lead in, whatever the situation is in the game, I want to do that."
The Jets out-hit the Devils 31-18, with Zach Bogosian registering seven to lead Winnipeg. And it spoke of a dramatic improvement in the home side’s compete level — an area that was stressed after the two most-recent losses to Dallas and Minnesota.
"It reiterates our point that we need to be physical, to be intense, to pressure all over the ice," said Kane. "And when you do that you see the turnovers you can create."
"I thought it was a way better game," added coach Claude Noel. "It looked like the team we thought we had. I thought we really managed the puck well, our compete level was really good. I thought we did a lot of good things. We played a very smart 1-0 game. We were very committed and unselfish. A lot of good play from a lot of players tonight."
Al Montoya hasn’t played a lot for the Jets — Sunday was just his sixth start — but he has given the club some solid netminding when his name is called. He kicked out 24 shots from the Devils and got some inspired play from the men in front of him, who blocked 19 shots.
"He played well," said Noel. "That’s not an easy role to play when you come in after playing five games and you haven’t played very much. But he’s done that last year. I thought Montoya was really, really good. I don’t know if he had to be spectacular, but he was good. He was big in the net and I thought he helped us out."
Asked if he might have a goalie controversy on his hands, Noel grinned, then added:
"I’ll leave it up to you guys to create one, if you’d like.
"His game was great. He’s played in tough situations. He did it last year, he’s done it again this year. It’s not an easy game to play when you watch your team play five and then you’re under the gun. There was a lot of pressure on Al and I thought he handled it superb, just like he did last season.
"He doesn’t make me nervous when he goes into the net. He’s been working good. (Goaltending coach) Wade Flaherty’s had him prepared for awhile. He’s done a great job."
Jacob Trouba didn’t hear his name called as one of the three stars — Montoya, Kane and Dustin Byfuglien were honoured — but the Jets’ 19-year-old rookie was solid again. He led the team in ice time with 26:36, was a plus 2, dished out three hits, was an offensive threat occasionally and gave more hints that his game is multi-layered.
"I guess that’s why I’m here, to play," said Trouba when asked for his thoughts on leading the Jets in ice time again. "I don’t know... it is what it is. I’m used to playing like that with my past teams so it’s not any different for me."
"He’s a very good player right now for us," added Noel. "What can you say? He plays with a lot of poise. He shakes off mistakes. He plays with a large amount of confidence. He’s just a good player. You watch the details in his game: he skates, he manages the net real well, around the net real well. He makes smart decisions. He’s playing very well.
The Jets’ six-game homestand hits the halfway mark Tuesday night when the Montreal Canadiens are in town, followed by visits from St. Louis, Nashville and Washington.
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