COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Winnipeg Jets begin a four-game road trip tonight in Columbus when they take on the 2-9-0 Blue Jackets. Head Coach Paul Maurice says even though his team comes in with a 6-3-1 record, he doesn’t put too much stock in Columbus’ record.
“I thought they played a (heck) of a game last night. They were fast and physical. Going into the game, just take a look at the roster,” said Maurice. “This was a really good hockey team here, and it still is.”
The Blue Jackets are 2-2-0 since hiring John Tortorella as their head coach on October 21. The Blue Jackets did not hold a morning skate after dropping a 2-1 decision in Washington last night.
“I watched that game last night. That looked like a John Tortorella team to me all day long. They skated, they got on the body, they competed on every puck,” Maurice said. “That was all Washington could handle last night.”
Adam Lowry agrees with his coach, and sees some similarities between the Jets (6-3-1) and Blue Jackets.
“The reputation John Tortorella has is he has his team play hard. They work hard and they compete. It’s a lot similar to the way Paul coaches,” said Lowry. “We’re a pretty accountable bunch here. So we know it’s going to be a test.”
Tonight marks the second time of eight that the Jets catch a tired opponent on the back half of a back-to-back set.
“Guys are in better shape now a days,” said captain Andrew Ladd. “I don’t think it has as much of an effect on teams as it used to.”
The Jets have two sets of back-to-backs on their current four-game road trip. It’s part of a road-heavy November that will see Winnipeg play eight of its next nine games away from MTS Centre.
“The road takes on a life of its own. It’s either a really good place for your team, and even if it’s not it’s still a great place to sort things out. I thought November last year, was where we found our game,” said Maurice. “We went into the Island, New York, and New Jersey early on there, and got to our game into Chicago on back-to-back nights… I think it will hold true again. We’re going to work real hard at finding our game this month.”
The path to finding that game may include taking a page from Columbus’ work in the defensive end, according to Maurice.
“They’re very close to the very top, if not the very top team in the NHL, in terms of the shots they give up from close in on the net,” he said. “Which is where we’re aspiring to… We’ll take them very, very seriously tonight.”
Puck drop tonight is slated for 6 pm CT.
The Jets have given up the first goal in eight of the team’s 10 games this season, but have turned those situations into a 5-2-1 record. That translates into a .688 winning percentage, tops in the NHL.
“We’ve been unlucky a few times, we’ve got down pretty early in games. We’re going to need to work on our start,” said Lowry. “Last year, for the most part, we were a team that would come out and put other teams behind the eight-ball. That’s something we’re going to have to fix.”
MILESTONES KEEP COMING
After Ladd played his 700th NHL game against Los Angeles, and Perreault skated in his 300th game Thursday against Chicago, Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers are set to hit big numbers in the games played column tonight.
Stafford is expected to play NHL game number 600 tonight, while Tyler Myers will be working on his 400th.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com