The Winnipeg Jets are on something of a roll these days, beating Boston at home on Friday and moving to within two points of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jets have a chance to tie the Leafs today with a win over the Colorado Avalanche, a team in a similar situation in the Western Conference.
The Jets have been this close before and managed to fall short, something that coach Claude Noel still can't figure out. Inconsistency has been the team's biggest problem all season. Last week was a case in point. The Jets lost to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, then beat Minnesota Thursday and Boston Friday.
"Why is it in the [game against the New York Islanders last week]they scored in the third period and we had nothing? What went wrong with that? Why did that happen? Why were we so sensitive to whatever it was that made us not really compete after they scored? THat was disturbing. And I don't where or why it came up. Then in Minnesota we played okay and then against Boston we were good for 60 minutes. So where did that come from?"
He added that he just wants his team to play at their best every game, "I can live with the wins and losses."
Another constant issue has been the team's play on the road.
The Jets are 17-9-2 at home, but 11-17-4 on the road.
When asked why the team still can't seem to win consistently on the road, Noel didn't have many answer but cited "lack of comfort".
Noel also took issue once again with one player who has not lived up to his game; Eric Fehr. Noel has been frustrated with the 26-year old forward for months and has called him publicly before. He has also put Fehr on a variety of lines and sat him out for the last four games. Fehr missed training camp because of shoulder surgery and he has just one goal and one assist in 31 games this year. Last year with the Washington Capitals he had 10 goals and 10 assists in 52 games.
"I’d like him to show me that he wants to have success it’s that simple," Noel said today when asked about Fehr, who will play tonight.
"Help me, help you. I’ll play him 20 minutes if he can help me. All I want in him is just to perform, better, harder be productive. Ask yourself at the end of the day what impact did I have on the game? It’s a pretty simple question and everybody plays differently but everydoy has a chance to have an impact on the game in your own way. Well show it to me, because I'm waiting.
For their part the Avalanche arrive in Winnipeg after beating Edmonton on Friday, putting Colorado three points out of a playoff spot.
"I really like the way that our team has battled through most of the season," said head coach Joe Sacco. "We’re still ritght in the thick of things."
The Avalanche will also have one of their top forwards, Matt Duchene back today. Duchene had been out for nearly two months with a knee injury.
"It feels good right now," Duchene said after a team practice Saturday. "I'm going to expect some tweeks but that’s the nature of the inujry."
Duchene, who grew up in Haliburton, Ont., said he has been excited about the Winnipeg game all season. He remembers watching the Jets on television as a toddler. "This is a game when I looked at the schedule of the beginning of the year I kind of marked on my calendar. I can’t wait to play here."