By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
It was everything he could have hoped for and then some as newly-minted Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice watched as his squad dispatched the Phoenix Coyotes 5-1 in his first game in charge.
Just ten or so hours after he met his Winnipeg Jet players for the first time, Paul Maurice took to the bench behind them on Monday night at the MTS Centre. Maurice had little time to prepare a game plan — let alone get to know everyone’s name — but whatever he did, it worked.
“Our compete level and the energy level of our group and we did the one thing that we had talked about – when adversity came to the doorstep that next goal was huge,” Maurice said of his team. “The bench didn’t get quiet, they stayed positive and that is the start of the foundation of handling adversity over the course of a game.”
The game was full of firsts in a long while for this Jets team.
Devin Setoguchi scored his first goal after going 18 without. The Jets recorded their first win after losing their previous five. And the overall effort from every player, up and down the bench, was at its best.
“The positives are that we got some speed,” said Maurice. “I was fairly comfortable when the puck was in our end of the ice.”
Maurice said that there were three or four technical things he would like the team to improve on, as well as quickness as a team. So what did he tell them on the heels of their win?
“I congratulated them on facing some tough adversity and winning, thanked them and then proceeded to cancel the day off that they had tomorrow,” said Maurice who added “I am sure they will get over it.”
The dressing room after the game was all smiles, with players praising the work of their teammates in the midst of some pretty bleak days around the club.
“I think we worked extremely hard and all 60 minutes we played the way to win the game,” said Ondrej Pavelec who stopped 18 of 19 shots for his 12th victory of the season.
“When you have a coaching change it usually gives your dressing room a jolt and makes everyone look at themselves in the mirror and tell yourselves to be better,” added Andrew Ladd. “I think we did a good job and playing the right way and now we have some more work to do in the next couple of days.”
Maurice agreed and was quick to dismiss some of the elation surrounding the team.
“It’s one game,” said Maurice. “Tomorrow we will go to work like today never happened except we can smile a little more at each other before we start barking and we will get back to work. It’s there, and we got to take another step forward.
“It was good enough tonight but we can’t rely on that being good enough in our next game.”
Scott’s Scribbles: Zach Bogosian went down awkwardly into the board, appearing to hit his head. He left to the dressing room but returned shortly after…Michael Frolik scored his 10th goal of the season, making him the seventh Jet to have 10 or more goals this year…Devin Setoguchi erased an 18-game goalless drought with his eighth of the season in the third period…Mark Scheifele’s assist on Blake Wheeler’s 17th goal gives him 14 points in his last 16 games…The Jets converted on just one of seven power play opportunities.