December 8, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
IT'S coming... again. And how the Winnipeg Jets handle their second of back-to-back contests later this week will go a long way in determining whether this team is really exorcising one of last year's demons.
The Jets were 9-15-2 in back-to-back games in 2011-12 and particularly awful in the back end of the doubleheaders, with a 1-12-0 record. This week's back-to-back comes Thursday in Sunrise, Florida against the Panthers and Friday in Tampa Bay against the Lightning -- all part of a three-games-in-four-nights stretch.
"You've just got to put that out of your head," said defenceman Mark Stuart. "These are important games that we have to win. Sometimes when you're playing back to backs, unless you have a big bump or bruise, more of it is mental. You just have to put it out of your head that you're playing back to back and just go out there. It's a new game and it's a new night and two more points you have to get.
"If you can concentrate on that, it makes it easier."
'D' IS FOR DISCIPLINE: The Jets have been shorthanded just 11 times in five games this year -- the lowest total in the NHL.
"That's a beautiful thing after last year's debacle for that three weeks-to-a-month nightmare," said head coach Claude Noel. "It's about the accountability that the leadership has made in the room and how well the room, at least for now, is coming together. And how they've given some thought to the things that needed to change this year.
"I think our discipline has been very good. Very good. I'm very happy with it."
HIGH PRAISE: Noel raved about the work of forward Alex Burmistrov Monday, one day after the young European had arguably his best game of the season.
"He's a real trustworthy player," said the Jets boss. "He's very passionate and a real student of the game, there's real good dependability in his game. He's got some good offensive skills and we're trying to help him continue to grow. There's some other areas we'd like him to grow into and he's grasping that. The maturity is starting to take hold a little big here and that's a good thing."
QUOTABLE: Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, describing his team's rallies in the last two games, both wins:
"We don't quit. It doesn't matter what point of the game it is, we battle back. We were down a couple of goals (Sunday) night late in the third and we found a way to come back. We just never stopped playing.
"It's just getting older and getting to know that you can't quit. If you want to make the playoffs you always have to continue to play."
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2013 C3