It doesn’t get much more direct than the words spoken by Winnipeg Jets head coach Rick Bowness this week. After a poor showing against the lowly San Jose Sharks, Bowness didn’t mince words when he called out a number of the players on the Jets roster for not giving 100% effort when their team is barely in the playoff conversation and every two points are critical at this stage in the season.
Bowness told the media, “The inconsistencies of some of our players is hurting us.” He added, “If some of these guys think they are giving us everything in their tank, they’re dreaming. We’ve got a lot of guys in there giving us everything they can and we need a few more guys to jump on board. It’s not over, we’re still in the eighth spot. We’re going to find out what we’re made of over the next little while.” He didn’t name names but there are some typical producers not producing. Mark Scheifele (nine games without a goal) and Blake Wheeler (21 games without a goal).
Scheifele said of his personal struggles:
“I just gotta try to keep on working hard, try to keep my head up and stay positive. And that goes for every guy in this room. We’ve got to stay positive for each other. We’ve got to continue to go to work… It’s tough to say, you know. It’s hard when they’re not going in for you. Especially with the year that it’s been so far.”
Earlier in the season, Bowness would have been considered a candidate for the Jack Adams Award (coach of the year) when taking a look at the turnaround for a Jets team that grossly underperformed last season. But, as the 2022-23 campaign has worn down here, the Jets have faltered going 5-5-0 in their last 10 and winning only three games in the month of February.
When asked how he’s supposed to reach the players who aren’t giving their all, he responded, “There comes a point when your personal pride has to take over. If someone has to go in there and point that out to them, then there is a big problem right there.”
The Jets can probably feel the pressure coming from underneath too. The Calgary Flames are now just two points behind them for the final Wild Card spot and Nashville is only three points back. The Predators have two games at hand and wins in both of those games could see them overtake the Jets for the final playoff spot.
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