Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Coming home is cold comfort

Jets return feeling like the rest of us: weary, numb

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They're cold, tired and depressed, just like the rest of us.

The Winnipeg Jets returned home to the MTS Centre on Monday riding a fresh three-game losing streak and wondering, like the rest of us living in this Arctic deep freeze, what exactly they're doing with their lives.

"I've had enough depression over the last three or four days to sink many humans," was how Jets head coach Claude Noel summed up his mood after his club returned home winless from a road trip through Ottawa, Boston and Pittsburgh.

Noel said his melancholy extended throughout the Jets dressing room and was a product of what he and his players felt were missed opportunities on the recent road swing, especially in losses in Boston and Pittsburgh.

'I'm trying to keep the frustration level from bubbling over.

How am I doing?'

-- Jets coach Claude Noel

"I'm probably a lot like the players -- I think on that road trip we probably could have won two of those games possibly," said Noel. "I'm trying to keep the frustration level from bubbling over.

"How am I doing?"

Remarkably well, actually, for a man in charge of a maddening team that has been wildly inconsistent this season, setting a new benchmark in that regard with their most recent six-game stretch in which they immediately followed a three-game winning streak at home with the three-game losing streak on the road.

"We're consistently inconsistent," Noel said when asked to define his team right now.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd said the current skid in which his team is mired -- and the way they stumbled into it -- is particularly frustrating.

And the challenge now, says Ladd, is to find a way to arrest the downward spiral before it gets out of hand.

"Anytime you lose three in a row, it builds and builds and builds," said Ladd. "It's about trying to find a way to break that skid and get things going the right way. And that starts (tonight)."

The Jets take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at the MTS Centre tonight and Ladd said the task at hand is the same as it is for this Jets team every night -- to put it all together and do so for 60 minutes.

"Those inconsistencies are the only thing that's really holding us back," said Ladd. "That's the most frustrating part -- we have the pieces and we're not able to put it together."

Jets forward Evander Kane said his team seems to be stuck in neutral, unable to put together a run to get them above .500 and unable to consistently win the close games.

"I haven't seen much growth worth really noting," said Kane. "For us, growth would be winning those (one-goal) games and we're not doing that... It's just too many mistakes and breakdowns, offensively and defensively."

The Jets have played in 25 one-goal games this season -- the second most in the NHL this season -- and are 10-10-5 in those contests.

Jets forward Blake Wheeler said not only has his team been making too many mistakes, they've been making too many of the costly variety -- and then simply rolling over.

"A lot of our mistakes end up in our net," said Wheeler. "And a lot of the times we make those mistakes, sometimes it goes into shutdown mode. There's not enough of trying to get it back. Mistakes happen, what are you going to do? You try to get it back."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2014 0

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