CLAUDE NOEL likely wasn't in the mood to conduct an autopsy on his team just yet -- not with one game still remaining in the regular season and his Winnipeg Jets not officially eliminated from the post-season picture.
But this 6-1-1 run of late, whether it helps get the Jets into the playoffs or not, has revealed some things about his squad that are nothing but positive.
"To me there's some maturity things I've seen that I really like," said Noel after Wednesday's optional skate. "This stretch has really identified to me pretty much what we are and I like that.
"I see some things coming through that I like... who's driving, who's going, what games are getting identified from all the players. There's a lot of things I like there."
Asked if he thought the Jets were markedly better today than they were a year ago, the coach didn't hesitate for a nanosecond: "Yes. Some things have changed from a personnel standpoint, but from what I've seen, I'd say yes from the maturing process of the two years.
"That's a hard handle to get... you don't know what that maturing process is going to be or where they're going to develop to. I've seen that and that, to me, is what is encouraging."
TOBAN WATCH: NHL's Central Scouting released its final rankings for this year's draft and four Manitobans are among the Top 100 North American skaters: Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon (WHL) hails from Grandview and is ranked 12th; Max Domi, C, London (OHL) was born in Winnipeg while his father Tie played for the Jets and is ranked 19th; Madison Bowey, D, Kelowna (WHL) is ranked 32nd and was born in Winnipeg as was Brendan Harms, RW, Fargo (USHL).
ONE LAST PUSH BEFORE UFA? Jets centre/winger Nik Antropov had a goal an assist in Tuesday's loss to the Capitals and now has three points in his last three games. Antropov, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, has scored three of his six goals in the last six games.
"It was a little tough at first," said Antropov of his first action in three weeks. "Each period I felt better and better. I skated for five days prior to (Tuesday) night's game. I was OK conditioning-wise but it doesn't matter at this point. We lost the game."
QUOTABLE: "This stretch has been so critical for us. Every game has been so important and there's been a lot of scoreboard watching. We've had the mindset where we can only control our destiny by how we play so we've got to come in and play our game and not worry about what's going on.
"It's been great to see how as a team we've come together through adversity in so many critical games and so many emotionally driven games and been getting efforts from the whole team." -- Jets' D Grant Clitsome.
BULLDOG IN TOWN: The Habs have added Hamilton Bulldogs defenceman Jarred Tinordi and head coach Michel Therrien confirmed after practice at MTS Centre on Wednesday that the 6-6, 205-pounder will be in the lineup against the Jets.
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