HIS team mired in a three-game losing streak, Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Monday he's got larger problems to worry about right now than whether he'll be named to the Canadian Olympic team today.
"We've got bigger things we're trying to figure out here," Ladd said Monday at the MTS Centre, where his teammates assembled but did not practice.
"We're just focused on what's going on here. Losing three straight, that takes up most of my thought process right now."
The Canadian Olympic men's hockey team will be named today and Ladd is considered a long shot to make the team.
A couple of Ladd's teammates, however, punched their Olympic tickets on Monday, with the Jets confirming that goalie Ondrej Pavelec and forward Michael Frolik were named to the Czech Olympic team.
The Finns, meanwhile, will name their Olympic men's team today and Jets forward Olli Jokinen said cryptically on Monday that he already knows if he's on the team, but wasn't yet willing to share the news with reporters.
"I know what's going to happen, but it's not my place to say anything before they announce the team," said Jokinen.
Jets forward Blake Wheeler, who was named last week to the U.S. Olympic team, was asked if he's concerned at all with who Canada names to their Olympic team today. "No," Wheeler laughed.
System? What system?
PITTSBURGH Post-Gazette hockey writer Dejan Kovacevic raised some eyebrows in Jets Nation with his blog post Sunday in which he quoted some unnamed Penguins players as being critical of the Jets "system," or lack thereof.
"One (Penguins) player said they have "no structure," Kovacevic wrote. "Another said they had "no real plan for what they're doing." Yet another called them "really just a strange team." All concerned, it should be noted, praised the talented individuals on the Winnipeg roster. It was hard not to be impressed with some of them on this day alone. But the focus clearly was aimed at Claude Noel's system or, if he has a system, the evident failure to execute it.
Noel, the Jets head coach, was asked Monday in Winnipeg if there's a problem with his "system."
"There's nothing wrong with the system. When we play the right way in our system, we play well. That's what we're striving for on a consistent basis," Noel replied.
"It's nothing to do with the system. Whether we have a good system, bad system, no system -- you see us play, we play very well or we play very poorly. Why can't they find middle ground?... That's a good question. That's what I'm trying to get us to do and I will be relentless in my pursuit to get that.
"Now, is that a system issue? I don't believe it is."
Jets forward Olli Jokinen concurred. "At the end of the day, there's a lot of teams playing the same system," said Jokinen. "It's more about playing the right way and buying in and focusing on the task."
Lightning formidable foes
The Jets take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the MTS Centre.
The Lightning, including injured sniper Steven Stamkos, skated in Winnipeg on Monday and Noel said Tampa poses a formidable challenge, even with some key injuries in their lineup.
"You've got to give their coach (Jon Cooper) kudos. They've got a lot of guys out, some key guys like Stamkos, and they continue to do well," Noel said of the Lightning, who are third in the Eastern Conference despite having enjoyed the services of Stamkos for just 17 games this season.
"It should be a good game (tonight)."
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