July 4, 2015


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Winnipeg Jets

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By Gary Lawless

No time for Jets to come unglued

Won't right ship by having confidence slip

Panic can seep into a dressing room and infect it, with disastrous results. The Winnipeg Jets recognize this, as well as the situation they are in right now, and so far the antidote has worked.

The club seems determined not to compound its latest losing streak by falling apart as a group. Staying positive may seem like a trite refrain, but it's all the Jets have these days.

Winnipeg Jets player Andrew Ladd celebrates with his players his goal on the  New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur during the 1st period of the game at MTS Centre Saturday afternoon.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets player Andrew Ladd celebrates with his players his goal on the New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur during the 1st period of the game at MTS Centre Saturday afternoon. Photo Store

"It's OK to be angry right now, but you have to make sure you use that anger in the right way," said captain Andrew Ladd. "You can't start to blame one another and come apart. That can happen and we need to pull together. We have to be positive right now. I believe that and I believe in what we're trying to do and how we're doing it."

With two of the their best players -- defencemen Zach Bogosian and Dustin Byfuglien -- on the injured list and having lost five of their last six games, the Jets are in danger of slipping into perilous territory.

The wrong tack in the dressing room -- too much screaming and not enough encouragement -- and the Jets could implode.

Ladd, who was his team's best player and only goal scorer in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, understands this all too well.

"We have to come and have that same work ethic and tempo every day," he said. "We have to play the right way and try to set the right example for one another. Getting down on one another won't help. We have to support one another."

Coach Claude Noel knows the dangerous ground his team is treading on, but is confident his leaders have it under control.

"There was a point with our group where we weren't very happy, and our leadership group did some things before this game and it shows to me they care. They care about each other and the results," Noel said.

"They're doing the best they can right now with what we have. We wanted to play a game with more will and they battled and battled to the end. I'm certainly not going to beat up on my team. I'm happy with the way the guys have played and responded and I'm happy with the way the guys have managed the room. They've played with purpose and a will to win."

The Jets have lost three straight games since losing Bogosian last week, and his absence, coupled with Byfuglien's, has been crippling. The Jets just don't have a physical answer to other teams' big players without these two defenders in the lineup.

"The problem you have with our team when you lose players with weight, they're hard to replace," Noel said. "It is what it is. You have to play with the hand you're dealt. You have no choice. You play with what you have to the best of your abilities. The door opens for other players and it's not like they're not trying."

The losing has had an effect on the Jets' playoff chances as they've gone from as high as sixth place in the conference to sitting 10th and out of the playoffs right now.

If that sounds familiar, it's because it's what happened to this roster last season when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers and fell out of a playoff spot in the second half of the season.

Worrying about the past and coming unglued isn't the answer. Focusing on the present and sticking together, though it might not work, is the only chance these Jets have.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2012 B2

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