Video: PRE-GAME | JetsTV Road Report
EDMONTON, Alberta - As the old saying goes, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
But Blake Wheeler doesn't see things that way, especially when it comes to an NHL season.
"Our group acknowledges that in the NHL today, it's a sprint more than a marathon," Wheeler said this morning. "You can't just look at the big picture and say 'I think we're talented enough to make the playoffs' because then all of a sudden you're sitting at (American) Thanksgiving time, and 10 points out of a spot like we've been in the past.
"There's a recognition that we have to get this thing right, and we've got to get some wins built up here early in the season."
The Winnipeg Jets (0-2-0) have a chance to get that first win of the regular season tonight against the Edmonton Oilers (1-1-0).
Connor Hellebuyck will get his first start of the young regular season, after Steve Mason made 39 saves in Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Calgary Flames. Overall, the Jets have given up 13 goals in two games, but Wheeler says it's the responsibility of the players to be better in front of their goaltenders.
Video: PRE-GAME | Paul Maurice
"Just look at some of the saves (Mason) made last game. He's sprawling across the net keeping us in the game really for a while there. We need to do a better job," said the Jets captain. "Both games it kind of turned. Our penalty kill gave up a goal, momentum shifted, and we weren't able to get it right. There needs to be a little bit of recognition that momentum has turned a little bit, simplify things, weather the storm a little bit, especially on the road, until we get our game back established."
Head coach Paul Maurice said yesterday he feels his team is trying to "make the playoffs in October," and while the goals against and the team's defensive play isn't where he'd like it to be, he has liked how his team has come out of the gate in each game.
"The starts of both our games we like an awful lot," said Maurice. "Handling the failure of a goal against, it's not game 82 where it's the deciding game whether you make it or you don't. But I think we've had a little bit of that in terms of the emotions of our game, and haven't handled that quite as well as we hopefully will tonight."
Like the Jets, the Oilers are coming off a loss on Saturday. Edmonton dropped a 3-2 decision to the Vancouver Canucks, in a game that saw Cam Talbot chased from the net after allowing three goals on seven shots.
Video: PRE-GAME | Blake Wheeler
Talbot will be back between the pipes for Edmonton tonight, and Maurice plans to have two separate lines handling the big assignment of slowing down Connor McDavid, who already has one hat trick this season.
"They won't let us play (both lines) at the same time, so that's a problem," Maurice said sarcastically. "Based on Connor's start, there may not be one in the league for him. He's that good. We're going to have to have two lines that can play out there against him and match that speed."
So there may not be desperation in the Jets dressing room going into the third game of the regular season, Wheeler believes there is a certain type of urgency.
Video: PRE-GAME | Mark Scheifele
"The urgency is there to try and get this right. The results will take care of themselves if you're playing the right way," said Wheeler. "Our starts have been good in both games, it's just fallen apart a little bit as the game has transpired. We're looking to have a more complete 60-minute effort tonight."
The Jets held an optional skate at Rogers Place this morning, but Maurice did confirm that Marko Dano will take Joel Armia's place in the line-up tonight.
"His injury in training camp really set him back. He's got a good set of hands, but if your feet aren't going, you have a tendency to turn the puck over, like we've seen a couple times in his first two," Maurice said of Armia. "So it's a struggle, and you have a tendency to lose your confidence when you're a guy that plays with the puck. We have to get those legs back right so he can get himself into the holes and make the plays that he can make."
Dano played 8:06 in the season opening loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but did not play in the loss to the Flames.
Maurice added that University of North Dakota alum Tucker Poolman could also see his first NHL game tonight, but will be a game time decision based on health and other factors regarding the blue line.
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
Video: PRE-GAME | 1-on-1 with Tom Gazzola
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets play their second game in Alberta in three days tonight against the Edmonton Oilers…The Jets lost 7-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bell MTS Place on Wednesday in their home opener and 6-3 in Calgary to the Flames on Saturday night…Following tonight, the road trip concludes in Vancouver on Thursday…The Jets' next action at Bell MTS Place is Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes, which begins a three-game homestand.
Strength of Early Schedule
The Jets go up against some of the top teams in the NHL right out of the gate…Of Winnipeg's 11 games in October, nine are against teams that made the playoffs last season…Included in the October schedule are two tilts against the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 26 at Pittsburgh and Oct. 29 in Winnipeg…The Jets play the 50-game winner from a year ago Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 17 in Winnipeg and Oct. 27 in Columbus…In total, Winnipeg's 11 October opponents had a combined record of 543-300-106 last season.
Sunday's loss in Calgary got the Jets off to a 0-1-0 record against Pacific Division teams this season…The Jets went 7-13-1 against Pacific Division teams last season…Winnipeg went 2-10-0 against the four Pacific Division teams that made the playoffs - Anaheim, Edmonton, San Jose and Calgary.
13 in 2
The Jets have allowed 13 goals against through their first two games, which is a franchise record…The previous high was 11, which the Atlanta Thrashers suffered as an expansion team during the 1999-2000 season…The franchise record low for goals allowed through the first two games of the season in three, which happened to lead off the 2006-07 and 2015-16 seasons.
The Jets franchise is 62-83-27 all-time in October, including 24-27-5 since the team relocated to Winnipeg…In their 17th season, the franchise has posted a winning record in October five times (2003, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2015)…The Jets went 7-3-1 in October 2015 for a .652 points percentage, which is a franchise best.
Through two games, the Jets are tied for fourth in the NHL with 35 blocked shots…Winnipeg blocked 21 shots against Calgary on Saturday, led by Jacob Trouba's four blocked shots…The Jets had 21 or more blocked shots in a game eight times last season…Winnipeg finished 13th in the NHL last season with 1,177 shots for an average of 14.4 per game.
Stuck in the Middle
Winnipeg leads the NHL in second period goals against this season with five…The Jets are one of five teams in the NHL that haven't scored a second period goal yet, and are joined by tonight's opponent the Edmonton Oilers in that list…Last season, the Jets allowed 94 goals in the second period, which led the NHL.
Special Teams TOI Battle
The Jets have spent more time on the power play than the penalty kill this season…The Jets have played 20:40 on the power play, which is the fourth-most in the NHL this season…The Jets have played 15:48 shorthanded for a difference of 4:52, which is fifth-best in the NHL.
Brandon Tanev's goal in the first period on Saturday night was Winnipeg's first shorthanded goal of the season and Tanev's first shorthanded goal of his career…As a team, the Jets were tied for second in the NHL last season with 10 shorthanded goals.
Sharp Shootin' Continues
Jets forward Patrik Laine's 17.6% shooting percentage led all NHLers that took at least 200 shots last season…He improved on that during the pre-season, scoring five goals on 20 shots for a 25% shooting percentage…Four of the five goals came on the power play, which paced the NHL during the pre-season…He scored his first goal of the season Saturday night against the Flames and has a 20% shooting percentage on five shots this season.