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Jets coach Maurice does balancing act

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Winnipeg Jets' Eric Tangradi (27) and John Albert (70) try to deflect an incoming puck in front of goaltender Al Montoya (35) during a very short practice Sunday morning at MTS Centre.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Jets' Eric Tangradi (27) and John Albert (70) try to deflect an incoming puck in front of goaltender Al Montoya (35) during a very short practice Sunday morning at MTS Centre. Photo Store

WINNIPEG — As the clock ticks down on the NHL’s regular season for the Winnipeg Jets, now to just 17 regular-season games to go, preaching will have to be as effective as practising for coach Paul Maurice.

Today was another fine example of this. Despite having a number of flaws out of Saturday’s 5-3 home loss to Ottawa that could use some on-ice correction time., Maurice chose to rest most of his team. Only 10 Jets put on their skates today at the MTS Centre, and at that, for less than 30 minutes, as the team prepares for its Monday night game in Denver versus the Colorado Avalanche.

Urgency remains — the Jets, at 30-28-7, are now five points back of the eighth-place Dallas Stars — but priorities have shifted.

"We’re balancing here now, balancing energy and execution," Maurice said today.

"I’ll watch that as close as I can. We (practised) before the game (Saturday) because there was no morning skate and we needed to be on the ice and we’re going to have that situation happen again.

"We’re going to rest them until that point where we’re not moving the puck. You need time on the ice and practice time so we’ll balance that as best we can.

"This whole stretch will be viewed more as a playoff series in terms of how we rest our team."

Among those not participating again today was right-winger Chris Thorburn, who’s been out since last Tuesday with an upper-body injury. Maurice said today that Thorburn won’t be going to Denver but might be available as soon as Wednesday, when the Vancouver Canucks visit the MTS Centre.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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