Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 10/17/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 10/17/2013 9:27 AM | Updates
Blake Wheeler does not need a history lesson.
He knows it so well, if it were one of his classes today he'd almost surely be cutting it.
But here is the Winnipeg Jets right-winger reliving it again: It, of course, being a rocky start to the NHL season.
The 27-year-old power forward just hasn't seemed himself so far, with just one goal and two assists to show for the Jets' first seven games.
"I don't care about stats," he said Wednesday after the team practised at the MTS Iceplex. "Stats take care of themselves. I care about the body of work and what you do to get there.
"I'm a believer that if I play a certain way, the numbers are going to be what they are, what they have been. I'm more worried about the process."
In his first season in Winnipeg, Wheeler didn't score until mid-November, 19 games into the season.
In the lockout-shortened schedule, he disliked his early play, despite four goals and nine points in the first 10 games.
"That (2011-12) was a little bit larger sample size -- we're going to talk about this damn first year for the rest of my career here but that was 20 games and this was seven," Wheeler said. "That's the way it goes. I'm honest with myself. I know when I'm not playing well."
Jets coach Claude Noel gave a short, blunt answer to a question about Wheeler after Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Canadiens.
He expanded on the Wheeler subject on Wednesday.
"I think most players, if they don't have the ability to look, that's what coaches are for, to look and see their games," Noel said. "The other thing is we all have access to video on their shifts. So you have a real foundation of knowledge you can sort through.
-- Jets coach Claude Noel
"At least in Blake's situation, at least he is able to look in the mirror and say he's unhappy with his game. I think he needs to do a couple of simple things. I think for him less is more. Probably in one or two clear areas he just needs to be better.
"We spoke today a little bit about it, so he clearly understands."
Less is more was certainly what Wheeler was thinking on Wednesday.
"I have a pretty realistic view of how I judge my game and you know, I haven't been real pleased for the most part," said the winger who led the team in goals, 19, last season. "For whatever reasons, at the beginning of seasons I think I come in and try to do too much, trying to get things going and do the right things.
"That's on me. I'm the kind of guy that, to play my game, I need not to be thinking and... just relax out there. It's one of those things where you feel like you're going so hard out there but you're probably not. You're a little bit late, a second late and you're in the wrong spots because you're trying to do too much.
"For me, it hasn't been a real good start. I haven't been happy with it."
Wheeler said he's got no issue with Noel getting on his case. He even admitted he can be stubborn at times.
"You guys have gotten to know me a little bit. I'm a little bit hard-headed, a bit stubborn," he said. "I normally take the approach when things aren't going well, you try to skate yourself through the wall. That doesn't work for me. It doesn't and it hasn't in the past. I did that my first year here and it took me a little bit of time, longer, to realize that isn't me."
Some factions have been on his case because he's passed up too many good shooting opportunities, but always keep in mind there that hindsight is perfect.
"I think it's a mentality," Wheeler said. "I've never been a shoot-first guy in my entire life. I'm not going to be Kaner (Evander Kane). I'm not coming down and getting 10 shots a game. That's just not me.
"My instincts tell me I think I have a guy open and have a better opportunity to score, then I'm going to pass to them.
"Sometimes it works out and I look great. Other times it doesn't work out and I don't look so great. You're right, there are some opportunities I've passed up where I definitely should have shot and I think that comes with overthinking things and trying to make a play where it's not there."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 17, 2013 D1
Updated on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 6:55 AM CDT: Replaces photo, removes garbled fact box
9:27 AM: Video added.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Paul Maurice is frustrated after Jets' four-game losing streak
Home team did things their way, until 2nd period started
Jets can't stand success
Jets better than they look
Has it already gone sideways on Jets?
Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames, Oct. 19, 2014
Jets go down against Flames, 4-1
Move brings back memories for Perreault
Lowry man in middle
Simple things seen as the keys
Wakey-wakey, sleeping Jets
Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets, Oct. 17, 2014
Crash landing for Jets at home
Enemy no more
Line juggling to solve Jets' early woes
Gary Lawless & Tim Campbell on the Jets' inconsistency - Jets This Week Oct. 16
'You contest every puck'
Jets ready to face 'rock star' ex-teammate
Tonight: PREDS @ JETS
Jets hope to feel energized — not nerves — at home opener
PK is A-OK, power play is MIA
Postma snaps return-to-sender streak
Jets ready for season after facing league's heavy hitters: Maurice
Jets assign Cormier to IceCaps
Wheeler has no plans for further fistic forays
Home is where the hard is
Jets practice drills aimed at cranking up their 'battle level'
Hutchinson's first start a letdown
Afterburners all the time
Jets can't match quickness of top-tier teams