SASKATOON — Never mind the team-building and socializing the Winnipeg Jets are planning this weekend for their pre-season mini-retreat under the mountains in Banff, Alta.
The call went out Friday night for some mirrors.
"I can’t say that I really enjoyed it, really, the last couple of games with our team," said Jets coach Claude Noel after his team was waxed, 5-0, by the Boston Bruins at Credit Union Centre, completing a 1-4-3 pre-season. "You know you’re playing Boston, that you’ve got a challenge.
"We started off on the first shift tonight and it’s in our net. We made some mistakes they jumped on but it wasn’t about that. For us, our players have to look in the mirror on how we’re going to have to prepare ourselves for the regular season.
"And we’ve got a lot of work to do, let’s put it that way."
The Jets lost Thursday at home in overtime to Boston, and now have three preparation days before Tuesday’s Game No. 1 of the NHL regular season in Edmonton.
"As a player you want to use the pre-season for preparation... you want to feel confident going into the season and I don’t think that’s the case for us right now," said Jets centre Olli Jokinen. "We have to find a way to get better and get our heads into the next three days.
"I personally think that you try to care of what’s in front of you, fix that first and then start worrying about pointing fingers and looking for excuses. I think we all in this room feel like there has to be another level for all of us.
"Once we all do that then the team’s going to get better."
An announced crowd of 12,497 fans paid between $54 and $104 for the privilege of watching this tune-up.
"It’s disappointing," said Jets defenceman Mark Stuart. "We wanted to finish on a good note and have some positive feeling going to the first game. We didn’t get it."
Buff is fine
Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien went crashing, somewhat softly but awkwardly, into the end boards with 6:50 left in the blowout and had to be helped off the ice.
That was his last shift, but he was seen after the game walking under his own power without much difficulty.
A bad page
The Jets do have a bit of history in Saskatoon.
Jets 1.0 held training camp here in the late 1980s and the team played two neutral-site games here in 1992-93 when the NHL was doing that sort of thing, winning games over Hartford (8-7) and Ottawa (8-2),
Friday, more than 20 years later, there wasn’t much neutral about Friday’s outcome.
"Some of the stuff you’d think we’d be better at... if we could zone in on those areas before Tuesday, get some of that cleaned up, that’ll put us in a really good spot," said Jets winger Blake Wheeler.
"I think we still have things to work on. We’re getting better in areas but we still aren’t on the same page. We’re having breakdowns and you play teams like Boston and it’s in your net."
The Bruins, who went 6-1 in the pre-season with their double score against the Jets, beefed up their lineup for Friday’s contest, adding captain Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic, all of whom did not play in Winnipeg on Thursday.
The Bruins are ramping up just like all of their rivals, but they looked far more polished than the Jets in the two contests this week. It’s not that surprising, given that Boston was two wins from gaining another Stanley Cup in June.
"They were ready to play both games, didn’t matter who was in the lineup," Jokinen said. "They’ve been there."