Andrew Copp hasn’t missed the playoffs often in his NHL career. But his Winnipeg Jets team missed the postseason in his rookie NHL season. It was 2015-16. But Copp seems to recall the details like they occurred last week. Paul Maurice, now with the Florida Panthers, was the Winnipeg Jets coach then.
After Game 60, it was clear the team wasn’t going to be in the playoffs and Maurice had something to stay to the players.
“He was like ‘We’ll treat you like men if you act like men.’ I was kind of confused on what that exactly meant and now I’m on the other side a little bit, after being in five straight playoffs,” Copp said.
He knows what Maurice was getting at now because he feels a responsibility as a veteran trying to help the Red Wings play with pride and purpose during a failing playoff run. The Red Wings are 10 points back with 13 to play.
“It’s like these games, you got to find a way to inspire your teammates, inspire yourself,” Copp said after a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. “That can be hard. That’s our challenge. That’s the challenge for the older guys in the room to find that inspiration and for the younger guys it’s proving that you belong in the NHL. It’s a lot of guys we have that are fighting for spots going forward. You got to find that gear to push yourself.”
Losses Piling Up
The compete level has been there for the Red Wings, even though they have lost 10 of their last 12.
“We have a certain standard we want to play by,” Copp said. “There’s going to be things that happened over the course of the game but there’s going to be some non-negotiables that we need to stick to. For the most part it was all right tonight. Turnovers cost us, especially in the first. But we have to find a way to play a little more inspired that we did tonight.”
The frustration for the Red Wings is that a high compete level isn’t enough. Their roster still isn’t deep enough. Injuries to Robby Fabbri and Ben Chiarot don’t help. Their margin of error is too small.
Played well vs. Boston
Copp’s assessment of his team is honest, but rooted in the idea that he wants to keep his team focused on having a prideful ending for seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs.
“I think the last couple weeks have been pretty good. I thought the Boston games were two of our best. It sucks when the end of the Colorado game happened the way it did, and we were down 5-1, but there were some good things that happened in that game,” Copp said. “We battled hard in Nashville. The Boston games are the standard, though.
“If we don’t play up to that standard, that leaves us vulnerable for games like the last two. I think when you put down a marker and play as well as we did against the best team in the league twice, you don’t want to come off of that. Not to say that our effort or intensity hasn’t been there but it’s just a different level that the playoff teams are gearing up towards right now. I would say these teams are loaded up but that’s got to be the non-negotiable. I’m not saying it was bad. That next level of standard intensity is what needs to happen night in and night out.”