Improving Jets settling into Noel's coaching style
It took some time for the Winnipeg Jets to get used to Claude Noel, but they're starting to feel more comfortable playing for their new coach.
The Carolina Hurricanes hope to be following a similar path with Kirk Muller.
The Jets look to set a season high with their fourth consecutive win Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET) when they host Carolina, coming off its first victory since Muller took over as coach late last month.
Noel, who spent last season coaching Manitoba in the AHL, was hired in June to replace Craig Ramsay as the Jets franchise prepared to relocate from Atlanta. As excited as Winnipeg was to have an NHL team in town for the first time in 15 years, the early results under Noel were mediocre.
The Jets (12-11-4), though, have moved past their 5-9-3 start and are settling into Noel's coaching style and expectations. Winnipeg is on a 7-2-1 run following Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Northeast Division-leading Boston, which had been 14-0-1 in its previous 15 games.
"Every player on the team was brand new to (Noel) and he had to get to know every one of them and know which buttons to push and how to work." captain Andrew Ladd told the NHL's official website. "We, as players, had to learn what to expect from him and what he wanted.
"If you've looked at the last seven to 10 games, we've really turned that corner, we're playing the way we need to play, playing the system he wants us to play."
The Hurricanes (9-17-4) are still getting acclimated to Muller's coaching style after he replaced the fired Paul Maurice on Nov. 28, but the club was sharp in Wednesday's 5-3 victory at Edmonton.
Carolina matched a season high with two power-play goals and snapped a season-high seven-game skid to improve to 1-4-0 under Muller.
"It's been a while since we won a hockey game. We wanted to do this for Kirk," goalie Cam Ward said after making 22 saves in Muller's first NHL coaching win. "He's been great since he got here."
The Hurricanes, though, could find it difficult to match a season high by winning two straight road games. Winnipeg has won six of seven at home, scoring 26 goals.
Ondrej Pavelec has a 2.14 goals-against average while starting each of those contests, including wins in all three home games this month as he's allowed three goals.
"This last little stretch of 10 games we've had, he's been our best player," said Ladd, a former Hurricane.
That wasn't the case the last time Carolina was in town, as Pavelec was replaced by Chris Mason just 6:43 into a 5-3 victory Oct. 22 after giving up two goals on five shots.
Mason started the last meeting between these teams as Winnipeg won 3-1 in Raleigh on Nov. 25, but he has not been in net since.
Ward turned aside 27 of 29 shots in that matchup and is again expected to start with Brian Boucher sidelined by a lower-body injury suffered in Monday's practice.
Ladd and Evander Kane, who has nine goals and three assists during the Jets' 10-game run, have scored in both matchups with Carolina.
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal is scoreless versus Winnipeg this season, but he has three goals and a team-best eight points in the last six games.