Wheels ready to roll

Winger says he's good to go tonight against Leafs despite wound


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TORONTO -- They met, they talked, they skated and the Winnipeg Jets hope to be over what dragged them down in Thursday's disappointing 5-1 defeat in Washington.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/02/2015 (3026 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

TORONTO — They met, they talked, they skated and the Winnipeg Jets hope to be over what dragged them down in Thursday’s disappointing 5-1 defeat in Washington.

The Jets practised for only 30 minutes Friday at the MasterCard Centre, and meet the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at 6 o’clock at Air Canada Centre.

On Friday, captain Andrew Ladd, right-winger Blake Wheeler and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien were all given rest days.

Nick Wass / the associated press files Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler (26) is helped to the bench by Tobias Enstrom (39) and others after he took a shot inside the left knee during the third period of Thursday's game against the Capitals in Washington.

Wheeler is likely to be in the lineup tonight, coach Paul Maurice said, even after blocking a shot that hit him on the inside of the left knee on Thursday.

“He says he’s good to go,” the coach said. “We’ll see how he gets around the ice tomorrow. He’s played with injuries this bad before and not broken stride. He plays through it.”

Maurice said the trio is, “all OK. Hopefully they’ll be in for tomorrow.”

Other than that, he again was vague about the construction of tonight’s lineup. The lingering question seems to be if there are health issues up front, will Dustin Byfuglien be moved from defence to forward again?

On Thursday, the Jets scratched call-up Carl Klingberg and played defenceman Adam Pardy at left wing on the fourth line, continuing to use Byfuglien on the blue-line.

The 30-20-10 Jets meet the Leafs, who played a road game in Carolina on Friday night.

Toronto was 23-30-5 going into that game.


— — —


There were no further rants about penalties and penalty-killing on Friday, but it’s clear the Jets are concerned about both issues.

They are the NHL’s most short-handed team, with 247 opposition power plays. And their penalty-killing has given up nine goals in the last four games, and 17 in 50 chances since the all-star game, 12 games ago.

“We dealt with it today, this morning, now we get to leave it there,” Maurice said, having gathered the troops on the ice for a short lecture before practice on Friday.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice is optimistic he has the Jets' problems on penalty kill worked out.

“So we didn’t play well last night. They did. They were real good, real quick. We weren’t. So we’ve dealt with the details of that and moved on.”

Maurice is counting on his team’s ability to bounce back from one of only a few awful nights it has had so far this season.

“I think they have a good sense of what happened, why it happened, where we’ve been off,” the coach said. “We’re a little befuddled by our penalty-killing, honestly but other than that, I think they’ve done a good job of addressing what wasn’t right and getting back to how we’re supposed to look.”

— — —

Michael Hutchinson is expected to get the start tonight in goal for the Jets. He’ll be one of several Jets who grew up or played junior hockey in this area.

Among them is centre Bryan Little, who, like Hutchinson, played junior hockey not far away in Barrie, Ont.

“I always have a lot of family and friends in the stands so it should be fun,” Little said. “It’s a big game for us. These points mean a lot so it’ll be a good time.”


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