Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ladd noticing youth influx

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ONE week and three exhibition games (1-1-1) into training camp, Jets captain Andrew Ladd was asked Wednesday what he's learned so far about the 2013-14 edition of the team.

"I think we've learned that we have a lot of younger guys we can look for and they're going to push to get playing time and to move up to the ranks," Ladd said after Wednesday's practice at the MTS Centre. "That's exciting.

"Beyond that, it's been such a big group that it's tough to really see where exactly things are at. Hopefully when we get down in numbers, it will allow us to do that."

More cuts are likely coming at the end of the week, but in the meantime, there are still five exhibition games to play in the next nine days, including tonight's home contest against the Minnesota Wild.

What about those next nine days?

"I think at this point we want to get good habits in games, start to develop that part of it," said Ladd, who is expected to be in tonight's game. "For lines, chemistry and figuring out the way you need to play."

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Tonight's lineup against the Wild is likely to have some strength to it from a veteran perspective. The team's projected top line of Bryan Little between Ladd and Blake Wheeler is expected to play, as are second-line candidates Devin Setoguchi and Mark Scheifele.

On defence, expect to see Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom and Zach Bogosian, and the odds are that Ondrej Pavelec's back-up Al Montoya is due for his first action of the pre-season.

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Given that all his previous pro experience is in the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators organizations, new right-winger Matt Halischuk ought to be well-versed in one of the Jets' highest priorities -- cutting down on goals against.

Has he learned anything about his new team in that respect in the first week or traning camp?

"It's been a good start to camp and if we're talking about team defence, that's just going to be all five guys buying in and playing a team game," Halischuk said. "That's not going to be one guy coming in and making a difference. You just try to come in and play hard, play within the system and play together."

One of Halischuk's biggest challenges here isn't neccesarily the Jets' poor defensive habits, but that he knew almost nobody here when he arrived.

"(Patrice Cormier) a little bit but that was it," he said. "I'm very grateful to be part of the organization. Everybody's been great here and throughout the town and it's kind of a treat to be here so far."

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2013 D3

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