The frustration remains but the long faces and the short tempers have faded somewhat with the Winnipeg Jets' disappointing 1-2-1 road trip.
The 5-7-2 team was back to work on Thursday, readying for the next challenge -- Saturday afternoon's home game against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago's first regular-season visit in the Jets 2.0 era.
Jets head coach Claude Noel recognized his team was at a "boiling point" in the way it lost Tuesday's 3-2 decision in St. Louis, on a final-minute power-play goal, kind of the way many things went on the road trip.
"How much more do you need to punch yourself in the face before you realize that it's not very much fun?" Noel said after Thursday's practice at the MTS Centre. "The word 'frustration' doesn't bother me. It's a bad emotion that we have to deal with and how are we dealing with this?"
Noel answered his own question, sort of, by pointing out there are ample positives to go with the negatives.
"When you watch the games, it's pretty obvious what you see in some ways; it's both good and bad," he said. "I can see the good things our team can do, how we play and how we can be difficult to play against and I do like some of those things.
"But I don't like the results of the games because of the way we're letting those results get away from us. If you're asking me if there's progression, I do see that and I do see some things that I do like."
Noel even liked much or most of the way the team played in St. Louis, despite the end-game disappointment.
"That's a hard team to play in that building," he said. "We played a good game in that building."
Jets centre Bryan Little, who had his second short-handed goal of the season Tuesday, also acknowledged the frustration.
"We're still in it and we're playing really good teams and we're playing with them and I think everyone believes we can beat teams like these," Little said. "It's not going to get any easier but we're still positive and we're trying to figure out ways to win games."
Jets centre Olli Jokinen wants his team to keep pushing.
"I think we played better but it's still not good enough to win games," Jokinen said. "You play against top teams, you're able to keep the games close, but close is not going to cut it."
"So this won't do anything for your confidence, then?" Jokinen was asked.
"I just don't understand why you'd blame it on confidence," said Jokinen. "To me, I never buy in that your confidence is low so you can't score or you're losing your confidence. You should be confident. Every player should be confident. Your confidence should never go down.
"There's a reason everybody plays in this league. Every player who's in this league is a pretty good player. Teams go through some tough times and some players want to produce more than they're producing. Confidence should not be an issue. I think it's more of a frustration that builds up when you lose.
"With that, you have to be able to snap out of it. You keep trying to get better every day. A lack of confidence, I personally don't like that. I'm confident enough. To me, that's an excuse, but everybody's different, has different words to use."
Jokinen said trust can make the difference.
"You have to have confidence to believe in the system, confidence that we're doing the right things, that the guy next to you is going to do the right things," he said. "I don't like the sound of lack of confidence at all."
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