WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have officially hit turbulence.
Just 1-4-0 to start 2012, the Jets followed up a third-period collapse on Tuesday night in Boston with a 2-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. With eight of their next 10 games on the road, a club with just six wins in 21 road games this season faces a difficult path over the next month that will determine whether it is a legitimate playoff contender. Last season's second-half collapse doomed a promising start by their predecessors, the Atlanta Thrashers, and that memory remains fresh in the Winnipeg dressing room this season.
"Certainly we've hit a bump in the road now," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "This is going to be interesting to see how we do. It will be a good task for us, a good test for us, because we're going to face adversity straight-square in the face.
"For me, it's going to be more about dealing with the morale of the team now," Noel continued. "The team isn't going to be feeling very good. It's one of the issues that we're going to have to deal with."
Injuries to defensemen Zach Bogosian and Dustin Byfuglien have left the Winnipeg blue line struggling to generate much in the way of offense. The Jets will also be attempting to save their season against elite competition that is digging in for the Eastern Conference race, and Noel is all too aware of that reality.
"What happens at the 40-game mark is that you can see the teams with experience, they have winning experience, and our team doesn't have that experience," Noel said. "Somehow we have to find a way to get ourselves over the hump and re-energize and re-charge ourselves. It's a tough task."