Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Best to forget about this one

Erase memory banks and reboot after 7-1 annihilation

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Much like that road-hockey tennis ball on a frosty day, this one's going to leave a mark.

But how big and for how long is open for debate as the Winnipeg Jets limped home early Sunday from their 7-1 shellacking at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

The stinging defeat doesn't entirely ruin the Jets' recent stretch of progress. They are still above .500 at 13-12-4 because they are 8-3-1 in their last 12 starts.

But a six-goal loss? And overrun from the second period on? Can that just be forgotten?

"I think you've just got to forget about it, to be honest with you," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "Go back Monday and get back to work. You can't dwell on games like this. Obviously you could sit there and pick for days upon end, but at the end of the day, it's a long season and you've got to move on."

Moving on will bring the Jets to Game 30, Tuesday night at the MTS Centre against the Western Conference leaders, the Minnesota Wild.

The team took Sunday as a down day, not surprising given the taxing weekend itinerary. They played and won at home Friday against Carolina, then jumped on their jet and got into their Detroit hotel beds at around 4 a.m. ET.

The Jets then came straight back to Winnipeg after their four-game winning streak was dumped into the Detroit River.

"I think it's one of those games that usually you come back and have a lot better game after it," said Jets centre Bryan Little, who scored in Saturday's first minute. "I think we were on a high for a while and this game kind of brought us back down to earth.

"We realize we're not where we should be yet, that we have a lot to learn. I think it should be a lot different when we get back and get some rest."

To be fair, Saturday's trouncing also had something to do with the Red Wings.

Their high-skill, rapid puck movement ruled the evening and it's unlikely that even the 1996 Nikolai Khabibulin would have been able to fend off the quality onslaught seen Saturday.

"Puck possession's a big thing," Little said. "Tonight our faceoffs weren't great (beat 34-21) and it just seemed like they were hanging onto the puck a lot longer.

"We got caught watching them too much. We had a bit too much respect for them. It felt like were on the penalty kill half the game."

Added Ladd: "The thing that makes them a great team is that they play the same way from start to finish. They don't change their game. That's something we can learn."

But change is what the Jets did on Saturday, unintentionally of course.

That was head coach Claude Noel's biggest issue with the evening.

"It wasn't so much skating, the problem was we gave them the middle of the ice in the first period way too much and that would allow them to play east and west as much as they wanted to," Noel said. "Then for me, we didn't defend very well. You look, we were puck-watching in our D zone.

"It was poor."

The coach said he was unsure how much he would dwell on the lowlights for his team before Tuesday.

"If nothing else, this grounds us and puts us back on solid ground and we'll see," Noel said, asked to look forward. "There are days you face these things. You always ask yourself as a coach and a staff, 'Why?' and 'What could we have done, should have done? Should I have mixed lines, called a time-out earlier, all those things.' And you don't know the answers and it's not a good feeling."

Through six games of their most favourable stretch of schedule for the entire 2011-12 season -- 13 of 15 at home between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31 -- the Jets are 4-2-0 to date, with the next six at the MTS Centre until their Dec. 27 game in Colorado.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

Enter Antro

JETS centre Nik Antropov returned to the lineup Saturday night in Detroit after missing four games.

Antropov was held out of Friday's home game against Carolina but returned Saturday to the line that was having some success when he aggravated a previous undisclosed injury two weeks ago.

The big centre played 15:18 on Saturday.

Kane hits post

Left-winger Evander Kane collected an assist on Bryan Little's first-minute goal on Saturday, giving him points in seven of his last eight games.

Kane was largely a non-factor on Saturday, though, after being smacked hard into the post and partly over Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard late in the first period by defenceman Niklas Kronwall. He ended the night minus-four.

Don't stop now

Little, with his goal, has run a points streak to six games (4-4-8), while right-winger Blake Wheeler now has points in six of the last seven straight games (1-7-8).

Jones back

Jets defenceman Randy Jones returned from injury to play both weekend games.

Jones played 15:30 against Carolina on Friday and then saw 18:51 of ice on Saturday night in Detroit.

He missed 15 games after blocking a shot Nov. 3.

Fehr scratched again

Right-winger Eric Fehr was a scratch again Saturday.

After missing the first 19 games of the season while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, Fehr played five games, recording just one assist.

He then went out of the lineup and has missed five straight games, and has barely practised in the last week.

Coach Claude Noel said Saturday that Fehr was still day-to-day and wasn't yet ruled out of Tuesday's home game against Minnesota.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2011 C2

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