Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets work in rare but short Easter practice

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THE Jets held a 30-minute practice Easter Sunday morning before boarding their plane to New York in the afternoon.

Taking maintenance days and not skating were forwards Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Evander Kane and defencemen Ron Hainsey and Toby Enstrom.

All will be with the team this week, along with Mark Stuart, who has now missed five games, "banged up" after a collision with Washington's Alex Ovechkin. His health is being monitored closely.

"We'd like to keep him in, have him in and have him stay in," Jets coach Claude Noel said about Stuart.

As far as the practice vs. preserving energy question that has come up frequently during this condensed season, Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien wasn't shy about his opinion on Sunday.

"I wouldn't say it's been better but less practice is always a little better," he said, unable to contain a smile. "But it's doesn't make things easy, that's for sure. You've got things you want to work on but you don't have time to. It's tough but it's business."


Trade talk muted

WHAT Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will do between now and the NHL's trading deadline Wednesday isn't known.

He declined to take questions on Sunday before the team departed to New York to start a three-game road trip.

For reference sake, the team's highest salary this season is Nik Antropov's $4.75 million. Antropov is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

But because of the lockout, Antropov is not the player with the largest remuneration this season. Defenceman Zach Bogosian, who was paid during the entire work stoppage because he was injured, will receive his full $3 million salary this season.


Top line still OK

THE Jets' top line of Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler has been unable to produce any points in the last two games and was a combined minus-seven on Saturday.

"As long as they work," Jets coach Claude Noel said, making it clear he's got no complaint with the trio. "You'd like to get more from everybody. You're going to find ways to win. I'm always concerned if they're not on the board, how else are we getting on the board.

"It puts pressure on your power play ... we've been facing that dilemma all year. And if we're not (getting points from them), we have to defend better."


Noel expects Rangers to be 'ornery'

THIS week's road trip begins against a team struggling at the eighth-place line. The Rangers have lost two in a row.

"They're going to be an ornery team," Noel said. "I don't think there's a lot of ha-ha in their world."

But the coach said this week's road-trip challenge is to be relished.

"This is all good stuff, good experience stuff, the stuff that helps you grow," he said. "You want to be on the right side of the results but this is the intensity you're looking for. The game last night, the preparation for a game like that, you'd have to think this would be playoff-type material.

"You don't know what's going to happen. That's why it's sports. You don't know how it's going to go. There's going to be ebb and flow, momentum, a lot of different things will come into the game.

"It's really how you deal with it. Can you deal with it?"


-- Campbell

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 1, 2013 C3

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