It’s a question Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel knew was coming and didn’t really want to deal with, again.
Why can’t Winnipeg win the second game of a back-to-back? The Jets are 0-9 in that situation and face it one more time Friday against the Boston Bruins at the MTS Centre. The Jets managed a 4-3 shoot out win against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul Thursday. Boston arrives having beaten Montreal 4-3 in a shoot out on Wednesday.
“How many times would you like me to deal with that situation?” Noel said Friday when asked about the Jets woeful back to back record. “Well we’d like to change that, that’s about all I’ve got to say.”
Of course Noel almost always has more to say and he added: “To me that isn’t going to be the issue, the back-to-back. It’s going to be our third [game] in four, travel, where does fatigue lie, how to use your bench, how to use your players, what are you aware of... We’re going to try to win the game like we always do.”
Noel was in a playful mood Friday, clearly, when he was asked about facing the Bruins.
“They are a really soft team,” Noel said with a straight face. “Really poor goal differential. They don’t play very well. I don’t know how they won the Stanley Cup.”
Of course he was joking and he quickly added that the Jets will have their hands full Friday. Boston “can hurt you all kinds of ways. They’ve got depth, they’ve got size, they’ve got toughness, their goaltending is good. You’ve got to play smart. And you can’t take your foot of the pedal because they are a really good third period team.”
The Jets will likely be without one of their best defenceman, Zach Bogosian, who has an upper body injury. Noel said he was not sure when Bogosian will play.
The Jets are starting a set of eight games at home and badly need to pick up points if they hope to remain relevant in the playoff race. Winnipeg has 60 points, four points back of Toronto for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Boston has been struggling lately and both teams are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games. The Bruins will also be without Rich Peverley who injured his knee in Montreal and flew back to Boston for examination. The Bruins also don’t have Nathan Horton, who is out with a concussion.
“Those are guys that take up good minutes in games,” said Bruin forward Tyler Seguin. “It just means that each one of us have to step up. This is a good challenge for us.”
Seguin has also made extra certain he won’t be missing Friday’s game. The young forward didn’t play the last time these two teams met in Winnipeg in December. The youngster was pulled from Boston’s lineup because he missed a team meeting that morning after failing to set his alarm properly.
“My alarm was set for 8:30,” Seguin. “I was up at 6, 7, 8 and then at 8:30 [room mate Gregory Campbell]turned all the lights on, opened the windows and I was freezing.”