Less than two days after their season came to a sudden conclusion, Winnipeg Jets’ players gathered Monday to clean out their stalls and try to explain what went so terribly wrong down the stretch, and into the playoffs.
Two by two, Jets players were marched out to face the music after they failed to reach their lofty expectations with an early playoff exit.
“Our game, I think all year we were trying to find it a little bit,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “From the beginning, even while we were winning.”
“We know the feeling of how good we can be,” forward Andrew Copp said “And we never really got all the way up to that potential.”
WATCH: Raw Andrew Copp & Adam Lowry Interviews
Instead of playing desperate hockey with their season hanging in the balance, the Jets looked like a lifeless, tired group in game six, mustering only one shot on net in an utterly disastrous second period.
“Anytime you don’t win, you get fingers pointed,” Wheeler said. “So I’d say you point the first one at me. It’s my job to get this team kinda to that next level.”
Just 48 hours after their playoff elimination, there still weren’t a whole lot of answers on how their season spiraled out of control after such a strong start.
“I don’t know if you can put your finger on it, but I think we always felt like we were just a little off,” forward Adam Lowry said. “We weren’t right necessarily where we wanted to be. There was always something we wanted better in our games.”
“It just felt like, even when we were winning, even when we were rolling, it just didn’t feel the same.” Wheeler said.
WATCH: Raw Blake Wheeler & Mark Scheifele Interviews
“The piece to our game that I don’t think ever came to together the way we wanted to, was the defensive side of our game,” head coach Paul Maurice said.
“We had lots of guys that put up big numbers, and had good offensive years, but our defensive game – I don’t think was as good as it needed to get to over the course of the year.”
“We expected more out of ourselves this year, and next year we’re going to come hungry again,” Little said.
“You don’t just decide you want to win a Stanley Cup and it’s easy from there, and that every year you’re going to have a chance at it. People were talking about the Stanley Cup when we got to training camp this year which was crazy. And as players, as these guys know, nothing is guaranteed.”
And now that the Jets are done until the fall, the cloak of secrecy surrounding their injuries can finally be lifted.
“I was kinda struggling with my back pretty much the whole year,” forward Patrik Laine said. “And then I had kinda a small groin injury at the end of the playoffs, but nothing I couldn’t handle.”
“I got a fracture in my leg that I got in game five, at the end of game five,” forward Nikolaj Ehlers stated.
WATCH: Raw Nikolaj Ehlers, Bryan Little, & Patrik Laine Interviews
“I had a broken finger, and unfortunately I had surgery a couple days before the series started,” forward Brandon Tanev said. “But at the end of the day, it’s the playoffs, and you got to go out there and try to do the best for your team.”
The physical wounds will heal quickly, but the emotional scars will linger long into the off-season, especially for an organization with 26 free agents.