WINNIPEG - Most everyone has experienced the relief of waking up from a nightmare, able to take a deep breath knowing whatever had scared us, had not happened. Not so for Andrew Copp who opened his eyes with the reality of three games to two deficit staring he and his teammates in the face.
"Waking up was a little tough this morning," admitted Andrew Copp on Friday afternoon.
"But you get breakfast, you get packed a little bit and you starting to look forward."
The team held a skate and meetings before the mid-day flight to St.Louis for Game Six.
"It's not down." added Copp on the mood.
"It's not pessimistic. We know what we have to do now."
That is, of course, win the next two games. Copp didn't have to reach back too far for inspiration.
Video: PRACTICE | Andrew Copp
"Facing elimination can widen your eyes a little bit. We can just draw on experience from last year going into Game 7 in Nashville, we played our best game of the year, everyone was going, bench was right, felt like everyone was pulling in the right direction, I feel like we've been at our best when our backs have been against the wall. Lean on that, confidence from that."
Jacob Trouba agreed with his teammate.
"All the teams that have gone far in the playoffs have won big games with their back against the wall. So it's a challenge every team faces, so if you're going to go far, these are the games you're going to play. We played in them last year. These are the games your big players will show up and play big games."
Video: PRACTICE | Jacob Trouba
Trouba admits every playoff year is different, however, the similarity to what occurred in the second round against the Predators last spring, at least on the surface, is comparable to what the Jets are going through right now. Like when they faced Nashville, Winnipeg had some momentum entering Friday nights game against the Blues, and both outings ended in defeat. However, the wrinkle in the current predicament is the Blues three-goal third period rally in the third period to steal Game Five in regulation.
"The only way to look at it, is if you can't flush it, our season is going to be done." stated Copp.
"No real choice there, flush it last night, this morning, (Friday) and then kinda attack it and look forward to game six.
For his part, Trouba says there is no hiding from the pressure.
"It's an elimination game, you're not going to lie to yourself or try to paint a picture that's not of what it is. You gotta be honest with yourself and know your back is against the wall and find a way to get the series back to Winnipeg."
Winnipeg Head coach Paul Maurice admitted the challenges facing his team at this stage of the series are mental rather than tactical. Shoved into a position of having to win the next two games to advance, pushes the boundaries of self-discipline
"It's just a game, right, you've got another set of emotions. But, you don't want to get outside the game. Secret plays, killer plays, chances to break a game wide open five minutes into the first. You just go out and focus on playing the details of the game."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
The Jets have already bounced back from a significant setback against the Blues. Success in Game 6 will require shedding the baggage of what happened in the final frame in its predecessor. Based on history, specifically that referenced 2018 series win over Nashville, Maurice has confidence.
"Rebounding off tough events, they've got experience doing it."
Win Sunday and there is a Game 7 on home ice. It's what you play for in the regular season, home ice advantage in a series decider. But first, the Jets have to prove for a sixth time, that it doesn't exist.