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Jets Notebook

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Coach trying to get Seto back on track

Among the migraines Jets head coach Claude Noel is dealing with today is right-winger Devin Setoguchi's 17-game goalless drought stretching back to Dec. 2.

In Tuesday's eye-rolling 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at home, Noel gave Setoguchi just five minutes 35 seconds of icetime, with only a few seconds over the final two periods.

Apart from being a healthy scratch Oct. 18, Setoguchi has not seen less than 11:01 in any one game this season.

The 27-year-old winger, who has 123 career NHL goals in 429 games, admitted Thursday the slump was getting worse, that he's even been having trouble getting shots on goal.

He was, however, more interested in what's ahead, and that will include some conversations with Noel.

"I haven't talked to him yet," Setoguchi said after practice. "I'm going to talk to him today. We'll have a good talk. What's done is done.

"It's a new day. We'll just try to move forward and start fresh. I believe you've got to think right, have the right attitude. If you don't, you're already behind the eight-ball."

Noel said he wasn't going to air any laundry in public on the matter.

"What I want from him is what I want from all the players, and that's to try to get their A-game," the coach said. "That's really what I want. I want to get the best out of him and I think he wants that, too. I think that's the direction... I've got to be able to try to help him with his direction and when you're unhappy, you don't want to continue down the same road.

Postcards from sick bay

Apart from the three forwards, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane who missed practice Thursday, there was an update on some of the longer-term Jets' infirm.

Defenceman Paul Postma, out since Oct. 26 with a blood clot in his leg, is making some progress.

"Close to practising with us," Noel said. Postma has been skating on his own and is waiting to be cleared for contact.

Centre Jim Slater -- remember him? -- has been out since Oct. 18, having had sports hernia surgery.

"Slater is feeling quite a bit better," Noel said. "I don't know where he's at percentage-wise but he's above 50 per cent." Slater is skating and feels like he's creeping closer to some return date.

Defenceman Grant Clitsome, who hasn't played since Dec. 17 because of back issues, isn't doing well.

"He's quite frustrated there," the coach said. "He's not able to do very much."

Winger Matt Halischuk, who suffered a broken wrist Dec. 14, has been skating but isn't that close. A normal fracture can take up to eight weeks to heal.

Noel's blanket comment on the group was that he had some hope that one or two of those players could be back in the lineup before the Olympic break begins for the team after the Feb. 8 game in St. Louis.


A Little bit of nothing good for the soul

With Wednesday as a scheduled day off for the Jets, some used it for a strict mental recharge.

"You've got to find a reason to smile and reason to try to be in a better mood, to come in here and have some kind of fun or else it just gets depressing," said centre Bryan Little.

"I tried just to not really do anything. I didn't watch too much TV, didn't do much of anything. Just rest. Try to take my mind off hockey and everything about the game for a day. It was nice. Feels like we haven't had a day off for a while. It's nice to rest the body and the mind a bit. A good day off for me."

And while reporters were eager to see what anybody would say about change, Little said the source of change should be easy to identify.

"You can't really hope something happens," he said. "The change has to come from us and the way we play. We're trying to find a way. It's not very fun right now. It's not fun losing and I'm sure it's not fun for the fans to watch. But we're trying to find a way through it."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2014 C3

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