Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets Coach Paul Maurice Likes Where the Team Is Going but Not There Yet

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Jets Coach Paul Maurice Likes Where the Team Is Going but Not There Yet

Article excerpt

Maurice pleased with progress of Jets

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WINNIPEG - With almost a quarter of the season in his rear-view mirror, Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice is pleased with the team's progress but would still mark its report card "needs improvement."

"We've got the very early stages of a good foundation and a good understanding of the things we can do on a nightly basis, things we can replicate," he said Wednesday, a day after the Jets' 3-1 home-ice win over the New Jersey Devils.

"There's lots of good in our game. There's things I really believe we can get better at, just through repetition more than anything else, so we're right where we could be."

The Jets (10-7-3) woke up Wednesday in third place in the Central Division, good enough for a playoff spot if the season were over, but of course it's a long way from being over.

Maurice says he's taking a similarly long-term view of the team's progress.

"We're early stages in a bunch of things. How we generate offence, and how we generate offence and still be a good reliable hockey team. There's lots of areas of our game that I think will get better, I'm just not sure we can get better in a week or two."

The team has started to develop its identify as a defence-first organization, for example.

"For our defensive play that we have some confidence (in) now, it's done over months and years really, until the thought process becomes an instinct."

Defencman Mark Stuart says those things are taking hold as the entire team focuses on tight, positional defensive play, that cuts down chances for their opponents and makes it hard to get over Winnipeg's blue-line.

"As a defencemen you can only be aggressive if the forwards are in the right spot," he says. "For the most part we've had that. It's still a process though and we're still learning, we're still getting better."

The Jets also take a lot of penalties but they have one of the better records killing them in the league. The Jets have an NHL-high 277 penalty minutes, although Pittsburgh edges them out in minutes per game, but the Jets have only given up five goals and have scored two of their own short-handed. …

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