OTTAWA, Ontario -- A couple parallels can be drawn between the first two road trips of the season for the Winnipeg Jets: Two sets of back-to-back games, as well as a loss in the middle of the trip (and a win following that loss). Tonight against Ottawa, the Jets hope to match one more thing from their first road trip of the year.
Winning three of the four games.
It won’t be easy. Ottawa (6-4-2) has won three of its last four games, and Coach Paul Maurice isn’t reading much into the Senators’ 1-3-2 home record this early in the season.
“We’ve played some really good hockey at home and didn’t win games. I don’t know if you’re jumping on it,” said Maurice. “For us, we want to get as close to our game last night as we can, as quickly as we can. And then not allow them to get their speed going with the things we do with the puck.”
The Jets (8-4-1) didn’t have a formal morning skate Thursday, instead opting for a meeting to go over video to prepare for tonight’s game. Maurice also analyzed last night’s 4-2 win in Toronto.
“It was as close to the games that I think we played in the back half of last season, that we played this year,” Maurice said. “We’re going to have some nights where we get some good offence, but we have to learn to win games like that last night where nothing is easy.”
Tyler Myers played just over 20 minutes in that win. The defenceman says the Jets continue to improve as each game goes by.
“Last night was certainly a big step toward how we want to play the game. You’re always building as a group, especially early on in the season,” Myers said. “If we can learn the good things that we did from last night and continue them going forward, we’ll see a lot more consistency too.”
Myers, as well as the rest of the Jets skaters, will have to keep an eye on Ottawa forward Kyle Turris, who is showing some consistency of his own. The New Westminster, BC native has goals in four straight games.
“He’s played well for them since he’s been there. Certainly a player we’re going to have to watch out for,” said Myers. “At the same time, we’re focused on a style of game we have to play, and if we focus on that, we’re going to have success against anyone.”
So far, the Jets have had success on the road. With five wins in seven games away from MTS Centre, Winnipeg’s 10 road points trails only Montreal for the league lead.
“We learned our game on the road last year in November. I just want to see us to look like tonight the way we did last night in a lot of our approach,” said Maurice. “Then the outcomes of the games are going to fall the right way. Whether you’re at home or on the road, the game is right.”
Maurice said the Jets line-up will look the same tonight as it did in Toronto, with Michael Hutchinson expected to get the start against Ottawa’s Craig Anderson.
Tonight’s game gets underway at 6:30 pm CT at Canadian Tire Centre.
Alexander Burmistrov’s game winner over Toronto last night was his second goal of the young NHL season. Maurice said a goal like that is a big confidence boost for the 24-year-old forward.
“Confidence is everything. I’ve had hall-of-fame hockey players that have been just in the dumps and they scored one goal, and it set them on the right path,” said Maurice. “I felt he’s been very frustrated, not in a negative way, but in himself for not scoring. He’s been putting a lot of pressure on himself to generate.”
Burmistrov has been playing on the wing with Adam Lowry up the middle and Drew Stafford on the other side. The three players have matched up against some of the NHL’s best, night after night.
“We’ve asked that line to do a tough job, and those guys need a pay off every once in a while. It’s fine to go out and play well, and they did against Chicago, they had the Toews line the most of the night, but they need to put one in the net to feel like they’re impacting wins,” Maurice said.
“It’s mentally hard for them… Adam Lowry is in his second year, he’s still learning this job. I’ve played him against Kopitar, I’ve played him against Toews, so he’s drawing the big guys most nights, and he’s been good, really good at it.
“From a coach’s point of view, those three guys… have been really important to our start.”
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com