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No anchovies, Johnny

Jets blue-liner Oduya giving away too many 'free pizzas'

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Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel has called them "free pizzas" and after another delivery on Thursday night, defenceman Johnny Oduya addressed the obvious at Friday's optional team practice.

Oduya served up a mid-ice pass Thursday in Ottawa that was intercepted by Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson and deposited in the back of the Winnipeg net.

That sent the game to 3-1 in the third period and effectively snuffed the Jets hope of a comeback in the 4-1 loss.

"I don't know in specific cases like that one," Oduya said at the MTS Iceplex, asked if he might be trying to force things a little too much. "Obviously (Alfredsson) is a good player. Maybe I'm trying to force it a little too much lately and in some other situations, too.

"But I keep trying to play the way I can. I think I can do better, obviously, and I want to help the team win. That's the bottom line."

Oduya was in a similar hotseat after Game 1 against Montreal, a game in which he was busted by a couple of similarly talented players.

An early cross-ice pass in that game was gobbled up by Habs forward Mike Cammalleri and turned into a crowd-killing first goal. Later, Oduya was outfoxed and pickpocketed on the same play by Tomas Plekanec for another Montreal score.

They were all good examples of the kind of table-turning the Jets would like to start doing, he said.

"It's always easy to say we'd like to make the opposition make the turnovers," said Oduya, now minus-four through five games played. "It's something we talked about a lot, emphasize a lot. I think it's gotten better. It's going the right way.

"You want to win games but you've got to look at the bigger picture, too, that there are a lot of games left to play."

To that end, the Jets will look for another fresh start tonight at the MTS Centre when the Carolina Hurricanes come calling (6 p.m., CBC, 1290).

They claimed just one point of a possible four this week in Ontario, losing 4-3 in a shootout Wednesday in Toronto and then 4-1 to the Sens.

"I think we played fairly good games," Oduya said. "Obviously in key situations during the games, maybe a power play, scoring a goal, or the PK, we could have killed it off, a couple of situations like that, we could have done a better job.

"We know now we kind of how we want to play and how we'll be successful playing."

Friday, Noel was playing the role of the calm, collected voice of reason, despite the team's 1-4-1 record.

And he said he wasn't interested in any frenetic or thin-skinned reactions to the current state of affairs.

"You've got to get over it and plough through it," the coach said. "The only way around is through."

To that end Friday, though Oduya did not say his deeds Thursday were related, the 30-year-old Swede put himself through what looked to be a self-imposed bag skate while most of his teammates were engaging in their optional practice. Oduya chose the vigorous skate with injured fellow defenceman Ron Hainsey on a separate rink at the Iceplex.

"I just wanted to get a skate in, get the legs going a little bit," Oduya said. "So I gave it a little push."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 22, 2011 C3

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