Jets focus on staying out of penalty box


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TORONTO — Today was about words for the Winnipeg Jets, a day after their continued on-ice sins contributed to a disappointing defeat in Washington.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/02/2015 (3031 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

TORONTO — Today was about words for the Winnipeg Jets, a day after their continued on-ice sins contributed to a disappointing defeat in Washington.

On the heels of that 5-1 win by the Capitals, Jets coach Paul Maurice assembled his team at the MasterCard Centre for a midday practice and began the on-ice session with a lecture to the gathered troops.

“We dealt with it today, this morning, now we get to leave it there,” Maurice said after his team gave up three power-play goals to the Caps, making it nine power-play goals against in the last four outings. “So we didn’t play well last night. They did. They were real good, real quick. We weren’t. So we’ve dealt with the details of that and moved on.”

Winnipeg, headed for a Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada game here against the Toronto Maple Leafs, is the NHL’s most shorthanded team this season, down at least a man 247 times so far this season. In the last 12 games, the team has killed just 33 of 50 disadvantages and its penalty-killing, once elite, has sunk to No. 19 in the league.

“I think the first thing is just stay out of the box,” Jets defenceman Tyler Myers said today. “We take less penalties, we give them less of a chance to score power-play goals.

“So that’s first and foremost. Then when we do get on the kill, it comes down to desperation and outworking their power play. Obviously we’ve had a tough last few games here on the PK and it’s certainly something we need to turn around.”

Maurice will clearly be relying on his team’s ability this season to put the past in the past and park the bad karma and undisciplined play of late.

“I think they have a good sense of what happened, why it happened, where we’ve been off,” the coach said. “We’re a little befuddled by our penalty-killing, honestly but other than that, I think they’ve done a good job of addressing what wasn’t right and getting back to how we’re supposed to look.”

Forwards Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien were given maintenance days today.

Maurice, who coached two seasons in Toronto, was asked today about the challenges of working in this market, challenges that have become heightened with the collapse of the Leafs since firing coach Randy Carlyle.

Since that action, Toronto is 2-14-2 and playing a game tonight in Carolina before meeting the 30-20-10 Jets.

Here’s Maurice’s long, but insightful answer: “It’s real. You can say that there’s not necessarily any more pressure in terms of your desire to win games. That doesn’t change regardless of the market you’re in. But from controlling a message inside your room, it’s so much more difficult when you know that anything as the coach you say becomes 10 more cameras and three more stalls. So if you’re saying something good about a player, he’s a rock star.

“And if a guy has a tough night and you want to deal with the media honestly, you’ve got to be careful about how hard you go at his play because then the next day or maybe even that day, it’s a drive-by shooting. It is. They’ll find something that’s not going and it’s 40 people in the stall figuring out whether they should trade him, play him or execute him.

“And that’s a challenge for controlling that room. It takes a while to get a handle on it. I don’t know that I ever did. I thought Pat Quinn was probably the best at it because for the most part everybody was a little afraid of him, that he might have come across the podium, so that helped. And then I think he also got to a point where he really didn’t care so he said what he wanted.

“I enjoyed how he dealt with that. It’s a real difference between coaching… then second to that are Canadian markets and the traditional U.S. markets and then the non-traditional. There’s a major difference in what you have to deal with in terms of controlling the message in your room.”

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