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All work and no playoffs

Season gone, but Jets coach keen to build template

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LOS ANGELES -- It would have been easy to give the Jets the day off Friday but Paul Maurice would have none of it.

"We're working to lay a template on how we're going to work going forward. It's all about routine. This is what the Winnipeg Jets are going to do," said Maurice, speaking as if he expects to be back with the club next season, though there has been no official word.

"We won a game (Thursday's 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks) and I think there were some guys thinking, 'We're in L.A., why don't we take the day off?' We have to practise. We have to practise until we get it right. Rest is secondary.

"We have two goals. One is to make the playoffs and the other is to lay a foundation. I don't know where we are with the first, it's a pretty steep hill to climb, but we're sticking hard to the second goal."

'We have two goals. One is to make the playoffs and the other is to lay a foundation. I don't know where we are with the first, it's a pretty steep hill to climb, but we're sticking hard to the second goal'

-- Jets head coach Paul Maurice

The Jets sat nine points back of the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference prior to Friday's action and have only eight games left to close the gap. Mathematically there is hope, but that's about it.

Winnipeg (33-32-9) will play the third game of a five-game road trip tonight against the Los Angeles Kings (43-25-6). The Kings are on the NHL's longest winning streak having won five in a row.

Maurice put his team through a practice that dealt with structure in all three zones and in some ways felt like a training camp workout. He was asked later if he was coaching like a man that would be here in the fall, one trying to lay some groundwork for the future.

"Yes. Absolutely. One hundred per cent. I enjoy this team. I get excited when I see some of the things we do in a game like last night. I think where we could be in six months, two years."

Maurice is on a short-term contract and plans to discuss the future with his family at season's end.

Veteran Devin Setoguchi was a healthy scratch on Thursday and there's no guarantee he'll be back in the lineup against the Kings.

"I haven't made a decision. But I will tell you I like the way our lineup played," said Maurice.

"So that's the danger for players that come out of the lineup -- that we catch fire and it's tough to get back in."

No. 1 goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who has missed the last six games, declared himself 100 per cent after Friday's practice and Maurice is ready to put him back in.

"If he comes in (Saturday) and feels as good as he does today, he's the starter. So we'll list him as probable," said the coach.

Defenceman Zach Bogosian skated in an orange no-contact jersey on Friday is still listed as day to day.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 29, 2014 C2

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