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Jets expect physical game in home opener against Kings

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They have a season-opening victory under their belt that speaks of resilience and perseverance.

But the Winnipeg Jets are also quick to admit they have a lot to clean up from Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers in advance of Friday’s home opener against the Los Angeles Kings.

Priority No. 1 remains defensive-zone coverage.

"We’re heading in the direction, it’s a work in progress," said Mark Stuart after today’s practice. "The biggest thing is everybody knows their job… it’s just a matter of when you get in the game make sure you are talking. It’s when you try to do somebody else’s (job) or get out of your zone that you get into trouble."

The Jets and Kings have faced each other only once since the Jets return in 2011-12: a 1-0 Winnipeg win at MTS Centre back on Dec. 29, 2011. But the Kings represent everything that will be difficult about the Jets move to the Western Conference – they are big, skilled, and stingy defensively.

"We’re going to have to be prepared to play a heavy game and be physical and match their physicality and then try to use our speed to our advantage," said Evander Kane.

"We want to be on hard on the forecheck, hard in the neutral zone and take away time and space. But we need to be a little more patient."

"They’re a physical team," added Blake Wheeler. "They play the game the right way. Once they made the coaching change guys really bought in to what they were doing and you can see the way they play and their willingness to win games 1-0, 2-1. They’re solid all over. You’re not going to get many gifted opportunities."

The Jets will likely again be without Grant Clitsome, who missed today’s practice.

This will be Winnipeg’s third home opener since the franchise relocated from Atlanta and the Jets are 0-2 in the first two.

"It’s always exciting to have your home opener in front of your fans," said captain Andrew Ladd. "They’re excited after a long summer and so are the players. We’re looking to build off that first win in Edmonton and get better."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

 

Jets sign Morrissey to 3-year contract

The Winnipeg Jets have inked one of the best and brightest in their prospect pool.

The club announced today it has agreed to terms with defenceman Josh Morrissey on a three-year, two-way, entry-level contract with an average annual value of $1.425 million. The 18-year-old Morrissey, the club’s first-round draft pick (13th overall) this season, was assigned to the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League after impressing at Jets’ training camp last month.

Morrissey used his Twitter account to offer a response to the news: "Unbelievable honour to sign my first NHL contract today with the Winnipeg Jets! #DreamComeTrue"

Morrissey has played in three games with the Raiders so far this season, scoring twice and adding three assists. The deal only pays Morrissey when he is in the NHL and the first year of his new entry-level contract applies against the salary cap if he should play more than 10 games of a season.

-- Staff

History

Updated on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 4:42 PM CDT: New story added after practice.

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