The Winnipeg Jets head coach has been in the game long enough to know how to deal with questions about his job security in a losing streak that reached seven games on Monday after a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators comes with the territory.
He did not overreact, nor lash out.
Maurice calmly looked at the camera and made it clear that his energy was focused on more important topics.
“I’m not at all worried about that,” said Maurice, who is the second-longest-serving NHL head coach behind Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “And that has nothing to do with keeping him. The set of circumstances that you find yourself in, you don’t let it affect you. It is a difficult situation. But have no problem with the heat. I do this everyday. I am here everyday. I know what’s going on. We are trying to fix it. The guys played hard. They play hard, they compete, they stay together. This is the only way out of it. This is the right way. So I’m not going to spend a minute worrying about it.
Maurice was also asked if he felt the level of noise surrounding his team’s collapse was justified?
“I’m not complaining about any of the questions you ask. We’ve lost seven in a row and that’s just a fact, ”said Maurice, whose club has slipped to 27-21-3 this season and will close the road portion of the schedule on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames. “What we’re talking about here is not letting that be the story in the room and being able to keep your head calm and being able to come out and fight to get out of it.
“There are fans who love this team, but if you lose seven in a row they won’t be very happy with that and why would you be. I can tell you that no one here is happy about it.
Maurice had joked at the start of the season that with the glare of the spotlight on the all-Canadian division, there would likely be between two and five shots in the North.
At this point, the Montreal Canadiens replaced Claude Julien with Dom Ducharme and the Flames knocked out Geoff Ward to bring back Darryl Sutter.
With five games to go in the regular season and the Jets now tied for third place with the Canadiens, Maurice is not about to be added to the roster.
However, this end-of-season swoon for the Jets brought an unexpected twist to the proceedings and eerily reminiscent of what happened at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
When a losing slippage like this occurs, usually every aspect of an organization comes under scrutiny.
This is why exit meetings – even though they have moved to the Zoom world in the midst of a pandemic – are taking place.
Questions are asked, answers are provided and evaluations are made based on the combination of these exchanges and on-ice results.
These discussions will take place at the end of this season.
In the meantime, it’s up to Maurice and his coaching staff to find possible solutions to the problems that plague this team and it’s up to the Jets players to perform at a higher level.
That burden must be shared, otherwise the Jets are heading for a third straight early exit.
Speaking of questions, the big question for the Jets right now revolves around how they plan to try to stop the bleeding?
“It won’t be easy,” Jets substitute captain Josh Morrissey said. “There are nights in this league where you really put in a bad effort and are rewarded with a win for some reason, then there are nights where you seemingly do a lot of good things and play hard and just can’t seem to get it right. buy one. . But it’s the NHL – it’s a ruthless league.
Following Monday morning’s practice, Maurice used humor to try and capture what his team were going through right now.
“We hit a bad pass on three systems: 5 against 5, penalty and power play,” said Maurice.
It is not exactly a winning formula.
Maurice knows it’s a terrible time of the season for the offense to dry up, for the power play to struggle and for the penalty to eliminate a leak.
On Monday night, the Jets’ lone scorer came from Morrissey in a four-on-four situation on what was the defenseman’s ninth shot on goal.
The high-octane offense was once again held in check, limited to a total of 10 goals in the last seven games.
The Jets’ power play finished zero for six and gave up a shorthanded scorer, although the penalty appeared to take a step forward, going three for three.
With less than two minutes to go in regulation, Jets defenseman Logan Stanley was unable to clear the puck from the defensive zone, triggering a series of chaotic events that ended with a slap from Nikita. Zaitsev defeating Laurent Brossoit with 77 seconds remaining on the clock. .
Allowing another late goal was a big blow to the Jets, who failed to register a single point in a streak that represents the longest slippage since the franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011.
When a losing streak lasts this long, a team goes through a wide range of emotions and the Jets are no different in that regard.
“I am proud of the way they are handling it. I mean, nobody likes it, but they did the right things, ”said Maurice. “So we’re not slamming the doors. It’s not… that they don’t care enough. We have already gone through the phase where everyone is barking. Now we make sure we do this together and try to be as united as possible. “
Jets captain Blake Wheeler did his best to try and set the tone as he spoke with reporters, reinforcing the need to focus on the process and not the outcome, as difficult as that may be in this difficult period.
“That’s how it’s going for us right now. (The Senators) had two even chances to score the entire game and (the Jets) lose the game, it’s a little hard to describe, ”said Wheeler. “It’s like we have to be perfect to win a game. It’s really important for our team to cut the noise out right now and watch this movie and say the only thing missing was the result.
There is a reason why the aforementioned noise is getting louder and louder.
Two weeks ago, the Jets found themselves locked in a battle for first place with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Right now they are running out of time to get back on track and are in a legitimate battle to try to avoid dropping to fourth in the North.
Where the Jets end up placing things less than trying to sort out a few critical issues in their team play before the playoffs arrive.
“Typically, you still take a few losses before you come back to the winning side, even when you’ve played well,” Wheeler argued. “I think the last few games have been more good than bad. We just have to keep pushing. We just have to stick with that and not let it get to us and hopefully we can build some confidence here before the regular season is over.
The plan presented by Wheeler makes a lot of sense, but the Jets’ track is limited and the clock is definitely running.