Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/1/2014 (1163 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Sure, the Winnipeg Jets looked like a team reborn under new head coach Paul Maurice with a dominating 5-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Monday at the MTS Centre that snapped a five-game losing streak.
But let's remember: The issue was never whether the Jets could play well, work hard and win one game. They did plenty of that under former head coach Claude Noel. Indeed, the Jets did it almost exactly one-half of the time Noel led the Jets for the past two-plus seasons, amassing an 80-79-18 record during his tenure.
So sure, savour the joy that was Monday night's end to a losing streak that was the longest this city has known under the Jets reincarnate. But the real issue won't even begin to be resolved until tonight in Calgary against the Flames.
And that issue is this: Can the Jets do it again? And then again, and again, and again as they attempt to dig themselves out of the 20-23-5 hole they have dug themselves and salvage something from what has been by any measure to this point a disappointing 2013-14 season.
The good news for Jets fans is Maurice was apparently very well-briefed on this exact issue when he took over the Jets on Sunday and he knows precisely the challenge he faces in the Jets dressing room heading into a game against a bottom-dwelling Calgary team that is exactly the kind of game the Jets should win, but so often haven't.
"This is a huge challenge for us, from what I've heard, about the way this has gone (for the Jets) -- the up and down," Maurice said Wednesday.
Game for a go
"We just won 5-1. So right now, in that room, they're thinking, 'We might win 7-1 next game.' And we've got to do everything that we can as a staff to make sure that's not the mentality going into this game. Or we will lose."
Yup, that's about the size of it, all right. The question is whether Maurice can do something about it, because Noel certaintly couldn't.
Maurice is game for a go. Having quickly and correctly diagnosed the problem -- the "consistent inconsistency," as Noel used to call it -- Maurice thinks he might also now have a prescription.
"We've got to get to the point that we understand the game we're going to play before the puck drops," explained Maurice. "When you do that, when you get to that point -- 'This is our game, we're playing it every night, we're consistent with it' -- then you know you're going to put a string of wins together... But it's going to take awhile to get that foundation in.
"It has to be implemented and we have to adhere to it. The (Phoenix) game -- the 5-1 win -- didn't tell you that I'm a good coach. It told you that there was a lot of emotion and we harnessed that emotion."
Jets captain Andrew Ladd agreed his new coach's prescription is just what the doctor ordered for this chronic ailment.
"We're trying to get past the point of looking who we're playing and making it about this group and the effort we're going to put forth tomorrow night," said Ladd. "We're trying to build that system and what we want to do each and every night and stick to it. It's probably needing to stay on an even keel a little more.
"We can't ride the waves of emotions. I think that's gotten to us a little in the past."
Of course, part of the emotional rollercoasters with the Jets may be born from simple immaturity and the fact that this Jets team remains one of the youngest in the NHL -- a point Maurice went out of his way, sort of, to reference.
"I'm not using that, I'm not going to fire that out as an excuse," said Maurice. "But it's really interesting it's not used around here. Because young teams around the league, that's all you hear -- 'We're a good young team, we're a good young team.' Here it's -- 'Frustrated for the last three years with the lack of development.' I don't understand that."
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @PaulWiecek