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Jets looking to extend Coyotes’ 11-game skid

Feb 12, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman J.J. Moser (90) reacts against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The struggling Arizona Coyotes visit the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday afternoon while trying to find a positive spin on their current predicament.

The negativity is swirling surrounding the seemingly never-ending Arizona arena saga off the ice, which still does not have a new NHL-caliber project in sight as the club continues to play at the 4,600-seat Mullet Arena for the foreseeable future.

Tack onto that forward Adam Ruzicka being placed onto unconditional waivers to terminate his contract on Friday. A since-deleted video surfaced online of an Instagram story Ruzicka posted that showed a credit card and white powder on a plate.

All that adds up to plenty of distractions in the desert.

Oh, and the Coyotes arrive on an 11-game losing skid that has seen them fall 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference entering Saturday’s action.

“That shouldn’t be in our mind right now,” said Coyotes center Barrett Hayton of the distractions. “We’ve got one task and that’s ending this thing, finding a way to win. That’s the sole thing that’s on our minds, we can’t be worried about anything else. We’ve got to control what we can control and got to be all-in on this thing.”

How is head coach Andre Tourigny keeping his team’s work ethic and mental game straight despite all the outside interference and a looming March 8 NHL trade deadline?

“When the glass is full, one more thing won’t make a difference,” Tourigny said Thursday. “For us, I think we need to (cancel out) the noise and focus on the process we have to do.”

That’s what the Coyotes will aim to do when they tangle with their divisional rivals, the Winnipeg Jets, a team that has rolled through the Central so far, going 14-3-1 against its other members.

The Jets are facing a different task than the Coyotes on Sunday, and that’s getting all their players going.

They got that puck rolling in the right direction Friday night when Nikolaj Ehlers snapped a 10-game goal drought by scoring twice in a 3-2 overtime win over the Blackhawks in Chicago.

Ehlers had been having trouble on a line with Sean Monahan and Cole Perfetti, leading to reduced ice time. Friday’s game saw Perfetti, who hasn’t registered a point in 12 games, fall to the fourth line and Alex Iafallo move up to join Ehlers and Monahan.

Head coach Rick Bowness liked the change.

“He’s one of the fastest skaters in the league, there is no question,” Bowness said of Ehlers’ game on Friday. “I wanted to put him back on the left wing to see if we could get him going, so he was skating much better tonight.”

Ehlers was pleased with the line switch.

“I felt pretty good, skating, my legs felt good,” he said. “I think we were able to get the chemistry going as a new line so that’s exciting.

The Jets on Friday entered a busy stretch of 20 games in 37 days that will carry them through the end of March.

–Field Level Media

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