After a rare day of rest in this 2013 training camp, the Winnipeg Jets hit the ice on Wednesday for their last straight practice day before closing their exhibition games with back-to-back matches against the Boston Bruins on Thursday and Friday.
Coach Claude Noel amped up the pressure during practice, delivering a few, ahem, pointed missives to his troops about communication on the ice, among other things. "We’re expecting more from our players in communicating," Noel said frankly. "It’s something we’ve talked about for quite some time. It’s really hard to defend unless you take some control, and try to identify who you have and what you have in situations… the only way you can do that is communication."
After the Jets re-assigned five players on Tuesday, they were finally able to combine their 27 players into a single dressing room – up until Wednesday, the Jets were split into two. That means guys including Mark Scheifele and Eddie Pasquale finally got their chance to move into the main room.
"As things kind of wind down, and your team starts to take shape, there’s more of a focus," defenceman Zach Redmond said of the change, with only two exhibition games left before the season opens. "It’s more of a team, rather than a training camp. Everything starts to get whittled down and fine-tuned."
Of course, there’s still some key battles going on, particularly on the defence, where Redmond, Jake Trouba, Adam Pardy and Paul Postma are all battling for their shot. Who makes it will depend on what direction the Jets decide to go with their roster, whether they decide to carry 14 forwards and seven defenders, or eight blueliners and just one extra forward.
Noel was non-committal about whether the Jets would prefer two extra forwards or defenders. Usually, he said, a team would carry 14 forwards, but "it really depends," he added. "It depends on what you got, what your needs are. I know I’m not giving you clear-cut answers, because it’s not clear-cut right now. And it depends on how you want to make up your team… toughness, or not, or more of, that type of thing."
Zach Bogosian wasn’t on the ice Wednesday. He is day-to-day, Noel said, having left the bench late in Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Blake Wheeler was back in action on Wednesday after being banged-up earlier this week.