Coach Claude Noel is trying to find the balance that works for his group, the balance between rest and play. Today, the players were given a day off to rest up for another big game tomorrow against the Washington Capitals.
Winnipeg has played 18 games so far this season, 12 of those have been on the road and six at home. Traveling is one thing but being in the Southeast Division with your home-base being in Winnipeg, is another thing. After awhile, your body clock will start to slow down and beg for rest.
Fortunately for the Winnipeg Jets, they only need to get through the next five and a half months before things will start to change around for them and the rest of the National Hockey League. The entire league will shift and the Jets will find a new home, hopefully with an easier travel schedule in time for next season.
Until then, coaches, management and players will have to work together to make sure they are doing the right things to stay well rested yet still stay focused and keep their eyes on the task at hand.
"It was a long day yesterday," said Noel. "They came in and practiced then went back out and did the skills competition, so they were here for a long time. In there, you have to find time to energize. I was going to give them Sunday off before the Tampa game but then we decided as a group that it would be better that we practiced and went over some methodical stuff and some tactical stuff.
"It's just about trying to manage your team and manage your group. For today, it was more wise that we get what we need for the game tomorrow. You have to balance between the need for practice and sense and common sense overtook this one."
After an "A" game performance Monday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Noel will be looking to find some consistency. The trick is not finding their strong game, the trick is to find a way to string "A" games together night in and night out.
"I'd really like to have two good efforts in a row, take the results out of it," said Noel. "I'd like to have two good team games in a row. The biggest thing is having 20 people participating in "A" games.
"We rate players out of five, five being excellent and one being poor. We had a lot of players in that game (vs Tampa Bay), having four's which we had not seen all year. That's what we'd like to get again, players getting four out of five, and that pretty much gives you another 'A' game. If we can do that consistently and get two games in, that would really help us.
"I'd like to get a win in, but I'd like to work collectively as a group with the same purpose in mind, work together to win."ERIC FEHR- SO CLOSE
The Jets have struggled early on this season with injuries especially to their blueline. The injured players are slowly getting closer to returning to the lineup, but it has been nothing short of a waiting game for the coaches, players and especially Jets General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff.
"I'm very happy with the depth of our organization, with respect to the guys coming in off the fence," Cheveldayoff told media Wednesday. "We've played twelve different defencemen now in 18 games, which is something that I don't know is good or bad but obviously you deal with it.
"We have some big players that are out and my hat goes off to the players who have come in and stepped in and taken the minutes from those injuries."Eric Fehr
has not played a game this season, but is expected to be a huge contributor when he does return to the lineup and will help give Cheveldayoff and the rest of the Jets management and coaching staff a pretty solid idea of where the team is at as a whole.
"Once we get Eric Fehr
into the lineup, we'll begin to truly understand where we're at with the players within our organization," explained Chevy. "This is a player who has not had training camp. He is a player who has started to skate and has been cleared for contact and is now starting to ramp it up. As far as when he's going to get in the lineup, I don't know yet but it's still going to take time for him to get acclimated into the rigors and the speed of where we're at, nearly a quarter into the season."
Although Fehr has been cleared for contact, coach Noel say's that he's not quite there yet but there is a slim chance he will be in the lineup on Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"He's close but I'd like to get him another practice or two so he won't be in the game tomorrow but he's close," said Noel. "How much he plays in the first game, second game, third game is going to be from a minimal stand-point, we're going to ease him into the game.
"He's cleared to go but we have to do some on-ice stuff with him physically but he's getting very close."MORE INJURY UPDATES- RON HAINSEY, BRETT FESTERLING, JIM SLATER AND ZACH BOGOSIAN
As far as Ron Hainsey
goes, he is also getting closer but still will not be available to the Jets lineup.
"Ron is slow, he's getting better every day but it's a lot slower than we figured," Noel said. "We just have to wait. He's getting closer, he's skating now and is going through some things that is better but we just have to wait and be patient."Brett Festerling
has not been cleared for contact but is not too far off either.
"Festerling is not ready for the game yet but he's getting closer too," Noel stated. "He's practicing today, no contact yet. I don't know where Saturday sits yet but he's getting fairly close."
Both Jim Slater
and Zach Bogosian
are day-to-day nursing a few bumps and bruises from Monday night's game against Tampa Bay. It is expected that Bogosian will be rejoining the team on the blueline Thursday night.Author: Kristi Hennessy- winnipegjets.com