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Jets in perfect harmony

Players making beautiful music together, don't want to break up the band

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Dustin Byfuglien (left) and teammates get some instruction at practice Monday at the MTS Centre. The Jets take on the Islanders tonight.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Dustin Byfuglien (left) and teammates get some instruction at practice Monday at the MTS Centre. The Jets take on the Islanders tonight. Photo Store

They've combined to make some damn fine music of late. And so, excuse the current collection of Winnipeg Jets if they have their fingers crossed the band doesn't get busted up at the NHL trade deadline.

"We've come a long ways, especially in the last month or so," said Jets winger Chris Thorburn. "This is a good group that you want to go to battle with so to see a change would be unfortunate. But, at the same time, it's a business and we understand that."

Given up for dead in mid-January, the Jets have made up considerable ground in the Western Conference playoff fight and -- entering play Monday -- were tied for the final wild-card spot with the Dallas Stars.

And so as the media worked its way through the Jets dressing room on Monday the common sentiment from the players to management seemed to be this: Augment this group if you want, but please don't bust up the good thing we've got going.

"Obviously any move they do they feel will benefit the team," said Jets forward Bryan Little. "But it's tough because right now I feel we're in a place where everyone is really jelling. We're all really confident in each other right now.

"It's one of those things you can't really control. It's up to the higher powers. Right now we're as good as we've been all year and this is probably the most confident the group has been since I've been in Winnipeg. If we do something or we don't, I feel like we have the team to give ourselves a chance to make a push."

The Jets begin a stretch of eight of their next 10 at home tonight against the New York Islanders. A day later comes Wednesday's trade deadline, so there is a very real possibility the crew that takes the ice against the Isles won't be the same one that suits up against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

"As a player there's not much you can do about it. Luckily enough for us we're in a tight race here and we've got to focus on that," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd.

"It's fun to be in a playoff race and at this point of the year you want to be in a position to add to your group. We've done that and I think we're also comfortable with what we have in here. We think we can get even better. I don't think (the deadline) is something we're really thinking about."

Asked if he hopes the Jets would add more pieces, Ladd spoke of the growing confidence in the room.

"We're comfortable with what we have in here," he said. "We have great chemistry right now and understand, collectively as a group, what we're trying to do."

Thorburn, Olli Jokinen, Mark Stuart, Adam Pardy, Al Montoya and Devin Setoguchi are the six Jets who become unrestricted free agents this summer, meaning they are vulnerable to being moved to a team looking to augment with a 'rental.'

But most of them have been around long enough -- and traded enough -- to understand how the business works.

"If you think about it, it drives you crazy," said Setoguchi. "I've been around long enough to know you just enjoy every day you've got and whatever happens, happens. If you think about it you're going to drive yourself nuts."

SICK BAY UPDATE: Jets coach Paul Maurice confirmed Monday James Wright has an ankle sprain and he will be out indefinitely.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2014 D2

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