ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The Winnipeg Jets are a long way from deciding whether Mark Scheifele will make their opening-day roster.
But the club's first-round draft pick continues to tip the scales in that favour. Scheifele scored his third goal of the pre-season to lead the Jets to a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators before a sold-out crowd of 6,275 at Mile One Centre on Monday night. He leads the club in pre-season scoring with three goals and three assists.
Scheifele was among Winnipeg's best players up front and young Paul Postma stood out on the blue-line Monday as both continue to push towards making the big club. "They were really good, yeah. I thought they played well. Scheifele, I thought, played really intelligent," said Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel, after watching his team win its second game of the pre-season against three losses. "That's what you need to find out. I think fatigue was a factor in the Nashville game. (Scheifele) looked tired. But you need to see those things. Here he was smart. Good stick. And Postma looked good too."
The Jets have 53 players in camp at this point and will likely be trimming down to 30 or less sometime today. Noel wouldn't confirm that the two prospects would avoid the axe, but hinted at it.
"I'd have to talk to management on that. But I did like them both though. We'll talk on the plane and see where that goes," said Noel. "But, it looks good there. We've got to get down to around 30 so it's coming. It's time to get down to one group and get to work. I have to talk to Zinger and Chevy."
The Jets iced a veteran group and controlled the entire game, outshooting the Senators 36-28 and only giving them much of an offensive window for a stretch in the third period.
Winnipeg went ahead on Scheifele's second-period opening goal and then took a 2-0 edge when Portage la Prairie's Troy Bodie scored later in the middle frame.
Ottawa narrowed the lead to one goal when rookie Mika Zibanejad beat starter Ondrej Pavelec in the third period. Jets winger Ben Maxwell made it 3-1 and then Pavelec shut down the Sens.
"I thought we were good early, our speed was evident and we were on them hard. I thought we did a lot of good things we talked about detail-wise. I keep seeing our team listening and paying attention and I'm starting to see some things that are good. It's encouraging," said Noel. "It looks like our players want success."
Noel challenged both Scheifele and Postma to raise their play earlier on Monday and they responded.
"Making this team is my ultimate goal and I'm going to keep working hard to do that," said Scheifele, who would need to sign a contract with the Jets if they should want him to start the season in the NHL rather than return to junior with the OHL's Barrie Colts.
"My goal coming in was to prove myself and show I was the right pick. I think I was better in this game and played well with my teammates. I got to the right spots."
Ottawa's lineup was a mix of veterans and youth and the Jets will likely see a tougher group against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
"I think I can adjust," said Scheifele. "I need to keep working hard and adapting. The first few shifts I need to adapt to the speed. My body is holding up. I worked hard this summer to be able to withstand the grind."
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