The Winnipeg Jets won’t be ‘whole’ again until next week when all their Olympians return from Sochi, but they do expect some familiar faces to be back on the ice ASAP.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and winger Michael Frolik, both members of the Czech Republic’s Olympic squad, are scheduled to be back practising with the Jets on Saturday with Olli Jokinen and Blake Wheeler — who will play for the bronze medal Saturday — expected to return by next Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Jets will be back in action on Thursday, Feb. 27th at MTS Centre against the Phoenix Coyotes in their continuing quest for a playoff spot, ending an Olympic break that began following a 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 8th. The club practised early today so they could gather to watch the Canada-U.S. Olympic semi-final. When they do get back to game action they will do so just two points out of a wildcard spot.
"I’m proud of our group and the way we finished up before the break," said captain Andrew Ladd. "There were a lot of great things we did collectively to give us a chance going forward here. We control our own destiny and if we string some wins together we’re going to put ourselves into a good position to make the playoffs.
"It’s an exciting prospect… you don’t want to go through the latter part of the year knowing it’s nearly impossible to get into the playoffs. To have something to play for, to be excited about games and have those games mean something. That gets everybody in this room to be motivated every night."
Head coach Paul Maurice continued to put his charges through some rigorous conditioning at practice this morning, skating the players for lap after lap at the end of the session.
"The breaks are never long enough… no matter who you are," said Dustin Byfuglien with a chuckle. "But it’s good to be back, get back in a groove and back onto a schedule. It’s always good to be with the boys again."
Mark Scheifele was back on the ice after missing practice Thursday, while Devin Setoguchi continued to skate while wearing an orange non-contact surgery as he nurses a bursa sac injury. Toby Enstrom was not on the ice because of a lower-body injury, but it’s not something that is expected to have him miss any game action.