Leafs and Jets looking to get back to winning ways when they meet Saturday
Friday, Jan 24, 2014 04:45 pm
WINNIPEG - They both had winning streaks snuffed out Thursday night on the road and they both want to get back on track Saturday as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets meet for the first time this season.
"We have to have a reset button here," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after practice Friday at the MTS Centre.
The Jets were flying back from California and weren't practising until Saturday.
The Leafs have strengthened their claim on a playoff spot in the East, while the Jets are looking to build on their success under new coach Paul Maurice, who also coached the Leafs.
Unlike Toronto, however, Winnipeg's 51 points aren't close to what it takes to contend for a playoff spot in the West. They sit 10 shy of Vancouver and Minnesota, which now hold the two wild-card spots.
Winnipeg (23-24-5) also must pass Nashville, Dallas and Phoenix before they can even close on one.
Both teams hit a wall Thursday night.
Toronto (27-21-5) saw it's six-game winning streak end as the Leafs crumbled 7-1 before the Dallas Stars. The San Jose Sharks capped Winnipeg's winning run at four as they edged the Jets 1-0.
Carlyle doesn't want one game to derail what has been a good stretch for the Leafs, who are closing in on one of the top three spots in their division as they now sit tied on points with Montreal.
"Hopefully we were able to flush what we did last night, or what we didn't do, that would be a better way to describe it."
He said they gave up too many scoring chances and were soft on the puck.
"We did some things that we haven't done in the last little while. . . We did more circling and we didn't stop and compete on pucks as is necessary to have success in the NHL."
Centre Tyler Bozak said they were outworked and outhustled, but it hasn't shaken their confidence.
"We're all confident, yeah, we think we can win," he said.
"We've played pretty well as of late other than the other night and we've got a chance to make this a pretty good road trip."
If they beat the Jets, the Leafs would end the trip with a 3-1 record.
Carlyle said their goaltenders have been forced at times to stop too many pucks, but the Leafs are no more reliant on their goaltenders than other successful teams in the NHL.
Jonathan Bernier has become the team's de-facto No. 1 goalie but Carlyle wouldn't say anything about who might get the start Saturday. Bernier later told reporters it wasn't him.
James Reimer says there is no point dwelling on when he might get a shot again in net.
"It really doesn't do you any good," said the Manitoba native.
"You try not to spend too much time thinking about it because at the end of the day you really don't have too much control over it and you've just got to be ready when you get the nod."
Carlyle said the team has confidence in both netminders.
"I would say that both of them have provided us timely goaltending," he said.
"Bernie has a bit more of a run here than Reimer and that's the way it's gone but we still have a lot of confidence in James Reimer, and if you revisit the game he played in Denver the other night for us you'd have to agree with that."
Maurice has Leaf ties (he coached the team for two seasons ending in 2008) and Carlyle has even stronger connections to Winnipeg. He spent 10 seasons as a defenceman with the original Winnipeg Jets and then was coach and general manager of the IHL's and AHL's Manitoba Moose.