ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice may have seen some positives in the 5-3 loss to Washington on Wednesday, but says that doesn’t mean the team is ignoring what led to their opponents skating away with the two points.
“When I say there were good things or positive things, that’s not the end of the discussion here. We’re dealing with the things that need to be dealt with,” said Maurice. “When we can get the volume of our negative play and the volume of our positive play at the right levels, we’ll start winning more games.”
Following that loss, captain Andrew Ladd spoke of the Jets’ need to find “another level.” The first chance to do that comes against the Minnesota Wild (11-6-3), a Central Division opponent sitting just three points ahead of the Jets.
Mathieu Perreault characterized the previous two meetings with the Wild this season as being unusual.
“A lot of goals, which is unusual for games against (Minnesota). Usually there’s not a whole lot of room,” said Perrault, who scored his second of the season in Wednesday’s game. “I don’t know if we can take a whole lot from those games. Right now we’re working on trying to be better defensively, and that’s what we’re going to do tomorrow.”
The Jets (10-11-2) and Wild have split those two games, with each team winning on home ice. Overall, Minnesota has won eight of the ten games they’ve played at Xcel Energy Center this season. Meanwhile, when the puck drops at 3 pm CT on Friday, the Jets will be looking to improve their 5-7-1 record away from MTS Centre.
“Once warm up starts it’s like any other game. After yesterday’s outing, the loss, we want to get back out there as soon as possible. So it’s good it’s a 3 pm start,” said Chris Thorburn. “The last one we didn’t like obviously. It’s still fresh in our mind. We have a good day here to get some rest, and get ready for an afternoon game tomorrow.”
Thorburn said following Thursday’s practice that he feels “good” after blocking a shot off his foot in the loss to Washington. Plays like those make a big difference in the defensive zone, a place Maurice and the Jets are focusing on.
“I didn’t feel that we got to that until November of last year, when we started to be a better defensive team,” said Maurice.
Winnipeg finished tied for the 10th in terms of the least goals allowed in the 2014-2015 season. A difficult November has them sitting 29th in that same stat so far this season.
“It’s a function of how we’ve chased the game an awful lot. When you’re down in games, or even when you’re not winning and the games are tight, you don’t feel comfortable. You open yourself up to kind of offence that we’re giving up,” said Maurice. “What we’ve done with the puck, trying to get back into a game, trying to break the game open, has led us to be a weak defensive team.”
Maurice expanded on that point, saying the risk and reward decisions the Jets have made on the ice hasn’t been what’s hurt them.
“Our risk profile hasn’t been hurt by cheating the game. We just need to be more comfortable in the tighter games,” he said. “The decisions we’ll make at a certain minute mark of the game that we didn’t make at a different minute mark of the game.”
Winless in their last six road games (0-5-1), the Jets hope to take advantage of a Wild team that has lost four of its last five games.
“It just comes down to bearing down and getting your head into it that you’ve got to take care of your own end first,” he said. “I think once we understand that, the offence is always going to be there for us.
“We’re going to come prepared tomorrow for a tough game and give it everything we have.”
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com