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Noel looking for answers after Jets fall flat

Head coach Claude Noel takes a timeout in the second period during the game against the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre on November 29, 2011 in Winnipeg.

Bruce Bennett/2011 Getty Images

It's a problem that bedevilled both the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night and it's one Jets coach Claude Noel has seen all too often.

A team comes home from a road trip and, rather than playing well in front of the home crowd, the players fall flat.

The Jets had played well on their recent road trip, going 1-1-1, but they came out completely flat Tuesday at home against the Ottawa Senators and lost 6-4. The Blackhawks had split their six-game road trip but also came out sluggish Tuesday and lost 4-1 to Phoenix.

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Noel said he has seen the same pattern played out for years and he still can't understand why.

"I don't know," he said Wednesday after the Jets practised for Thursday's home game against Phoenix. "It a psychological comfort thing. It's more than physical, it's mental, physical, it's all of the above."

Noel said he could tell early on in Tuesday's game that his players just weren't ready.

"I just never felt comfortable in the game," he said. "It's exactly what I envisioned could happen..

"That game I knew it would be a hard game to win. I just knew it."

He added that part of the problem is juggling the ice time for players and figuring out what they can handle.

Take a player who typically plays for 12 minutes a game, he explained.

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"He's really good for 12 minutes. [If he]plays 15, it's not the same. How come that is? Why is that. I don't why. Sometimes guys can do it okay for two or three games some guys do it for eight games some guys can't do it at all."

Tuesday's loss was tough for the Jets because the game was the first of a long stretch of home dates, with 12 of the next 14 at the MTS Centre, and Winnipeg had been hoping to pile up some points.

The players "would be demoralized just like we all are," Noel said when asked how his players responded to the loss. "It would be the low moment in our existence because the players wanted to win the game so there wouldn't have been much enthusiasm. So we have to move past it, which is what we tried to do in practice. We just went 30 minutes, get off the ice and keep your energy going. We have to focus on the games ahead of us."



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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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