A pile of pucks.
This weekly column looks to discuss a certain number of relevant Jets topics on a certain day of the week. That certain number? Five. That day of the week? Friday. Also, hole. This is the Friday Five-Hole.
THERE IS NO "L" IN NOEL
The heat on coach Claude Noel’s hotseat reached Icarus-worthy temperatures this week as his Winnipeg Jets went 1-2-1 on their latest road trip. The Jets were outscored 5-1 in third periods over the last three games – and many are pointing to poor decisions by Noel as the cause.
"Obviously we haven’t been happy with our play in the final frame lately," said Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff after a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. "The routine between periods needs to change, something just isn’t working," added Cheveldayoff, "and yeah, you know, I think that falls on Claude."
So what is happening in the Jets’ locker room in between periods?
"[Noel] smokes a lot of cigars," noted winger Evander Kane. "There’s so much smoke I can’t even really see the guy in the stall next to me," he added.
"He’s usually drinking whisky too, and being pretty loud about it," said captain Andrew Ladd. "He says he takes a shot every time we take a shot and he should be drunker than he is," added Ladd, "It makes me feel really uncomfortable. He sits too close to me."
"We can’t usually hear him anyway though," said defenceman Zach Bogosian. "He plays ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ by ZZ Top really loud on repeat."
Cigars? Whisky? ZZ Top? Those don’t sound like the appropriate actions of an NHL coach. When asked to comment on the rumors concerning how he runs his locker room, Noel opted not to comment, saying, "I can’t remember most games anyway."
Jets fans everywhere are jealous.
ENSTROM LOVES THE PLAYOFFS
Jets defenceman Tobias Enstrom has elected not to play for the Swedish National team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Enstrom took himself out of on Thursday, announcing he wanted "to focus on Winnipeg, the playoffs". Enstrom played for Sweden in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"This is huge for us," said GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. "For one of our veterans to show how important winning is…I just hope some of our younger guys take note," the GM added. "I know how important winning is for [Enstrom] and this is a big sacrifice," said coach Claude Noel. "I’m really impressed with his attitude here."
Enstrom knows there is a lot of work to be done before the playoffs.
"I’m not a casual viewer, you know…I need to watch every second of every game," said Enstrom. "I’ll probably spend the two weeks during the Olympics trying to set up a bunch of TV’s in my living room so I can watch every playoff game," he added. "I can’t wait to have the guys over, Little, Ladd, Byfuglien. We love watching the playoffs. It’s always a great time."
After the first fourteen games of the season, the Jets find themselves with the 5th worst powerplay in the NHL.
This is not a new problem for the Jets, who finished dead last in the same category in the shortened 2012-13 season. The special teams are suffering, but coach Claude Noel refuses to pay extra attention to them in practice.
"I just don’t know why you guys have to rag on the special teams so much," said Noel Sunday after a 3-2 to the Avalanche which saw the Jets go 0/5 on the powerplay. "Just because they’re special doesn’t mean they’re not normal, that they don’t feel like the rest of us. Shame on you," added Noel.
Noel continues to evade the tough questions.
The Jets’ Stick Rack
60 MINUTES (SANS ANDY ROONEY)
After an unsatisfying start to the season, the Winnipeg Jets brass are emphasizing the importance of consistency to their locker room. A hockey game consists of sixty minutes – and coach Claude Noel expects his team to play all of them.
"We need to play a full sixty minutes, every night," said Noel after a Thursday morning practice. "If we stop playing, we get scored on, simple as that," continued Noel. "We were up by a goal against the Avalanche on Sunday and we just stopped playing in the third, we didn’t give a full sixty minutes."
The message is slowly but surely getting through to the players. "It took awhile, but I’m starting to understand," said Dustin Byfuglien. "Sometimes I’ll just stop playing, just stand there frozen, out of habit," he added, "but it’s starting to sink in. We all need to pitch in."
"If everyone buys in to playing sixty minutes, then we’ll get sixty minutes of good hockey," added Noel. "Sixty minutes sixty minutes sixty minutes sixty minutes," added GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, "sixty minutes one-hundred-and-ten-percent sixty minutes get some shots on net sixty minutes."
Strong words from a desperate club.
THE CHAMPS ARE HERE
The Jets face their toughest challenge of the young season this Saturday when the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks visit the MTS Centre. The Blackhawks have continued their tear from last season, going 8-2-3 to start 2013-14. The Jets are aware of the daunting task ahead.
"It’s a good test for us, to play the best," said winger Blake Wheeler. "If we can hang with [the Blackhawks], we can play with
anybody," he continued.
"I know first hand how good they are," said Dustin Byfuglien, who won a Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010. "They come at you, and they come at you hard, all game long," he added.
"A team like that, you know they’re going to get chances no matter what," said goalie Ondrej Pavelec. "I have to be sharp."
Coach Claude Noel wasn’t ready to give his squad a vote of confidence. "Yeah, we’ll probably lose," he said Friday morning after practice. "We’ve already lost twice to the Predators, so yeah," he concluded.
GM Kevin Cheveldayoff echoed his coach’s sentiments. "We’ve won six games this season, you tell me," said Cheveldayoff.
The puck drops 2:00 PM Central Time