HE'S done the tough-love thing. And now Claude Noel, perhaps now working over his Rosary beads in his spare time for some divine intervention, is convinced the Winnipeg Jets' anemic power-play will soon come to life.
Asked about the team's woes with the man advantage on Thursday -- Winnipeg is dead last with just an 8.4 per cent success rate -- Noel was adamant those numbers will improve.
"It won't stay the last in the league," said Noel. "It'll change. There are some things that have to be better. Our execution has to be better. We've got more pucks to the net, which is good, but our execution in a general sense has to be better."
When pressed on why he was convinced the PP will improve, Noel was succinct:
"I believe in the players that we have that we'll get it on the right track."
The Jets are in a six-game, 0-for-17 slump on the power-play. And prior to scoring on a 5-on-3 situation in St. Louis on Oct. 29th, the Jets were in a 0-for-26 drought.
That's a whole lot of ugly.
"We've just got to stick with it," said Dustin Byfuglien. "It's going to come sooner or later. It's been a long time since we've scored, but it's something that we've got to keep going."
One of the ideas tossed around at the GM meetings earlier this week was to extend overtime from five minutes of 4-on-4 for another five minutes, perhaps with 3-on-3.
"You can play a little bit safe in 4-on-4 and still get through the five minutes (of OT)," said Noel. "The 3-on-3... there's a lot of room out there.
"I think 3-on-3 would be interesting, a little bit more interesting. It's decisive. It's a gamble, roll of the dice game. Let's put it this way: if it got to 3-on-3 I don't think you're going to see teams sitting back. Players would be able to make a decision on the outcome of the game in front of 15,000 people at home... you think they're going to sit there and say, 'OK, let's make sure we don't get caught?' They'd try to push the envelope, I would think."
And Byfuglien, when asked to weigh in on the same subject, offered this:
"I have no clue. I don't care. I think we should stick to 5-on-5 and finish it that way."
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RUMOUR CENTRAL: Somebody somewhere started it and now the bloggers, chat rooms and some mainstream media have jumped all over it: the Jets are said to be fielding calls for Evander Kane. Earlier this week in Montreal, a radio station floated this: Kane to the Canadiens for Max Pacioretty. And in Vancouver a TV type floated a rumour that the Canucks might want to package some of their prospects to land Kane.
OUCH UPDATE: Both Toby Enstrom and Blake Wheeler skipped Thursday's practice for the usual 'maintenance days' but Noel said they are expected to play in the game.