THE Winnipeg Jets took one on the chin Thursday night. And on the kisser. And both eyes.
Tonight, the hockey world will find out how they answer after being dropped to the mat and kicked around by the Washington Capitals in a 4-0 loss in front of their hometown fans. Same opponent Friday, same issues to deal with, but -- and the Jets had better hope -- different results.
"We've got to find a way to crack these guys," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "Obviously, we haven't had success and we've got to change it up somehow. It's nice there's a short turnaround and we get the chance to redeem ourselves right away.
"We're not happy with the result tonight and we should be upset about that, and that should motivate you to be a lot better tomorrow. You have to shelve it. It's too short of a season and these games are too important to dwell on it."
The Jets have now given up eight straight goals against the Caps -- the 4-0 loss Thursday, a 3-0 defeat on March 2 and the last goal in a 4-2 win in Washington way back on Jan. 22.
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Blake Wheeler is well aware his play is making the case for what kind of raise he might receive in a new contract.
The 26-year-old right-winger's two-year contract expires with this season's end, when he could become a restricted free agent.
His salary this season is a pro-rated $2.65 million. Wheeler has 14 goals, tied for the team lead.
"Ultimately, that's not up to me," he said Thursday morning, asked what's ahead contract-wise. "This has been a great situation for me -- the fan base, the coaching staff. It's just being around a lot of good people, and that's something I've thrived off of.
"I'm always a believer you don't mess with a good thing, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. We'll see where that road takes us some time soon, hopefully."
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Caps right-winger Eric Fehr appears rejuvenated by joining his old team after the lockout.
Fehr has six goals and 12 points through 26 games. Last season, coming off shoulder surgery, he had two goals and one assist in 35 games, and when the season was over, the Jets opted not to re-sign him.
"It's pretty frustrating," Fehr said Thursday. "I obviously felt like I had more to give. I felt like I couldn't show this city the way I really play and the way I am. I was disappointed in that. I just have to try to bounce back and I'm not playing on the team this year, but I think they're still following and I think they know that I was better than I was last year."
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No hard decisions were made at Wednesday's abbreviated version of the March general managers' meeting, but key conversations will now continue.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said he'll be supportive of the possible move to review and reduce the size of some goaltending equipment, but said the potential reduction of leg-pad size isn't a recent idea.
"This is not a new topic," Cheveldayoff said.
He also said the GMs were shown statistics from the last four years that show a decided increase in the use of visors by players, to the point where 73 per cent of current players are using them.
The league and the players' association will be discussing further the possibility to make visors mandatory for all new incoming players.
"It's kind of happening by itself," Cheveldayoff said, pointing to the stats.