Rockie end to pre- sea­son

Jets head for the hills af­ter be­ing throt­tled 5- 0 by Bean­town­ers

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - SPORTS HOCKEY - By Tim Camp­bell

BANFF, Alta. — Maybe the fresh, moun­tain air will clear their heads. Maybe the re­cent ap­pear­ance of fresh snow atop the peaks sur­round­ing this re­sort town in the Rock­ies will bring their mood to hockey sea­son.

Maybe just hav­ing what amounts to a mul­li­gan will make the Winnipeg Jets re­al­ize their dis­ap­point­ing pre- sea­son at 1- 4- 3 isn’t who they re­ally are.

Some or all of the above may have bright­ened the mood of the team’s coach, Claude Noel, who met briefly to up­date re­porters in the mid­dle of an ac­tiv­ity- packed Satur­day.

The night be­fore in Saskatoon, not long af­ter the Jets were blanked 5- 0 by the Bos­ton Bru­ins, the coach was in a dark mood and barely hold­ing back his dis­ap­point­ment.

“I’ve watched some of the video but it’s been busy with the travel, get­ting in here late and do­ing some of the team- build­ing stuff,” Noel said Satur­day, he and his team set­tled here un­til Mon­day, when it will move on to Ed­mon­ton ahead of Tues­day’s NHL sea­son- opener against the Oil­ers.

“I have been able to re­move ( Fri­day’s) game es­pe­cially... we’re go­ing to be tak­ing some clips off there that we can learn from and gather our­selves around but we will be mov­ing for­ward.

“The ex­hi­bi­tion game and the whole sched­ule was kind of all over the place, very busy for us. So we have to look ahead to play­ing Ed­mon­ton. That’s the big­gest fo­cus for us.”

The Jets will prac­tise here to­day and Mon­day and while pri­or­i­ties like bet­ter check­ing, a harder game and re­duc­ing goals against will be ev­i­dent, Noel pro­fesses to have moved on from Fri­day, even though it ap­peared the team is al­ready try­ing his pa­tience.

“( I’m) frus­trated for the fact you would have liked to have had a bet­ter record end­ing the pre- sea­son,” he said. “The pre- sea­son works in dif­fer­ent ways. You’d like to use it as a build­ing block for both in­di­vid­u­als and the team to get started.

“Were we able to do that? To some de­gree ( but), with the amount of games we played we didn’t have a lot of our lineup in those games.

“What I found my­self do­ing a lot of the time was mak­ing sure we were healthy for the start of the sea­son. But I was frus­trated for the over­all per­for­mance. I thought we had some good play from some good play­ers but not enough good play­ers. Some peo­ple that need to push the en­ve­lope did those things but some of our key guys, you wanted to see them per­form bet­ter.

“But you play a last game, play­ers are cau­tious about get­ting in­jured and a lot of dif­fer­ent fac­tors. Coaches feel one way, play­ers feel another when you deal with pre- sea­son.

“You try to bring those things to­gether and you have to keep a bal­ance. To­day’s a new day for me and I’m keep­ing that bal­ance. We’ve got to move for­ward.”

Bal­ance would have been key for Satur­day af­ter­noon’s test of the ac­claimed Stan­ley Thomp­son- de­signed golf course at the Banff Springs Ho­tel. But be­yond there, too, of course. “To­wards the end ( of the pre- sea­son) I thought we did some things bet­ter,” Noel said. “I could see the re­sponse to some of the video teach­ing we had done.

“What you don’t like is some of the goals we gave up in the games. At this junc­ture, I don’t think you can sit here and dwell on the neg­a­tive. You have to try to take the pos­i­tive and then try to build from there.

“We have a cou­ple of prac­tices to do that and our fo­cus has to be Ed­mon­ton and the start of that game.”

Vet­eran de­fence­man Mark Stuart was as dis­ap­pointed as his coach late Fri­day af­ter the Saskatoon beat­down, but held up the Bru­ins as a club that could teach the Jets some­thing.

“They’re a suc­cess­ful team for a rea­son,” Stuart said. “They come at you hard. They have a lot of tal­ent over there, good goal­tend­ing. But we’re com­pletely ca­pa­ble of bring­ing that hard game back at them and we didn’t re­ally match their work ethic. You kind of saw that.

“I just know one thing. From our record, it is pre- sea­son but you want to win and it’s very dis­ap­point­ing to come out with only one win in eight pre- sea­son games. It’s not where we wanted to be. But we’re go­ing to keep work­ing here. We’ll have some good prac­tices here this weekend and get ready for Ed­mon­ton.”

LIAM RICHARDS / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Bru­ins goalie Tuukka Rask stymies Jets for­ward Bryan Lit­tle dur­ing the first pe­riod in

Saskatoon.

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