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Fighting confidence, Jets look ahead to Blues

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets


ST. LOUIS, Missouri
– By their own admission, the Winnipeg Jets are struggling with confidence.

You can’t just find it at the corner store, after all. So how does a team about it regaining it?

Truth is, there’s only one way: Pull your bootstraps tight and get back to the basics. On the heels of a blowout loss to the Nashville Predators, the Jets were back on the ice today at Scottrade Center in
St. Louis, where hard work took centre stage.

Confidence is earned. Never given.

“We’ve got to build some confidence back, and we certainly know that confidence is earned. It’s not about pumping tires,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “When you’ve lost it, and we’re certainly struggling with it, you stop doing things as a group of five. … The biggest thing is you’re just not all that quick. We’ll get some simple parts of our game that we can grab some confidence from
and go from there.”

Winless in five, the Jets have had a polarizing start to the season. 4-1 out of the gates, they’re now a .500 hockey club out of a playoff spot for the first time this year.

“This is a great challenge and a great test,” Maurice professed. “Finding that confidence when you’re not. When you’re not feeling it, finding a way to fight through that. It’s a great test for the leadership, for our youth, but it’s one of those things you can draw on. You’re going to learn it; you’re going to learn how to get through it, and how to build confidence when you’re not
confident.”

The Jets – 0-3 on a Central Division road trip many thought served as a measuring stick – have given up 18 goals in their past three games. The team played well in Dallas and a bounce here or there could have altered the outcome, but a couple late goals broke a 3-3 tie against one of the
league’s top teams.

The response in the Music City was a disappointment for the head coach, but the team is committed to putting in the work.

“We’re not a confident group right now,” Maurice said. “Our play in two of the last three games hasn’t been enough for us to build confidence, so we’re going to have to find a different way to do it.

“We’ve got to start moving the puck and making plays with speed. The mistakes don’t bother you as much when things are going well, because there aren’t enough of them to be concerned about. When we’re struggling, those mistakes are in the back of your net and it sets you back even further.”

BALANCING ACT

Adam Pardy, who last played on Oct. 18, was paired with Dustin Byfuglien at today’s practice. Up front, Mathieu Perreault skated with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, while Andrew Ladd joined
Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers.

“Yes,” Maurice replied when asked if he was looking to balance the offence in the top two forward lines.

The coach did state, however, that the final decision on tomorrow’s lineup has not yet been made. “I’ll set that tomorrow,” he said.

Pardy has appeared in just three games this season averaging more than 14 minutes of ice time in a pair of wins and one loss.

“It’s tough sitting here watching games,” Pardy said. “You want to get in. You’re watching all your buddies out there working their tails off, and especially when you’re watching them lose games, it’s really tough to be out and not being able to do anything about it.

“When you sit this long, it’s hard to get out there and have your hands, have your vision, seeing plays and finding those holes on the ice,” he said. “That comes a little later, so the first thing is being aggressive, being on the body and hard in front of the net. If you look at a lot of the goals that have gone in [on us], there are areas right around the net – that red zone – maybe we’re not hard
enough there.”

Pardy expects another physical battle tomorrow night against the Blues.

“There’s not much room out there,” he said. “It’s all about moving that puck quick, and communication is a big thing against a team like this because they’re so well structured in their system. You don’t have a lot of time with the puck. It’s always a grind with these guys. We’ve had some great games against them and we expect the same tomorrow night.”

– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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