Jets hope rest and recovery will cure what ails them
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/02/2019 (1375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
DENVER — A couple of days off, an up-tempo practice and now some fresh mountain air — but will any of it make a difference as the Winnipeg Jets try to snap out of the mini-funk they’re in?
“Well, that gets answered tonight,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice, stating the obvious after his team’s morning skate at Pepsi Center, in preparation for a battle with the Colorado Avalanche. Game time is 7:30 p.m. CT.
“(Tuesday) we liked the practice, we had good pace and everybody’s eyes were on the board when we were doing our video. So, it was a good re-set for us to get back at it.”
Winnipeg is coming off a seven-game block of games that produced just a pair of NHL victories, three defeats in regulation — including a shoddy 4-1 loss to the visiting Avalanche last Thursday — and a couple of losses in overtime.
Apart from decent goaltending, the Central Division leaders (36-19-4) have slipped in all other aspects of their game. Too loose in the defensive zone, a weakened scoring punch and ineffective special teams units.
Jets captain Blake Wheeler said he expects to be part of a rejuvenated group against a highly motivated Colorado squad (24-24-11), which is coming off a 3-0 home win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
“It was good to get away, good to get some rest and recovery. There should be a lot of jam coming into the game tonight,” said Wheeler.
“They’re a good home team, they always have been. They do a good job typically of getting off to fast starts here. So, with a couple of days between games, we’re going to have to fight to get our legs and to get our game where we want it. But, it’s a great challenge coming in here. Things haven’t been easy for us, so it would be a good way to get back at it.”
Connor Hellebuyck will start in the Winnipeg net, while Semyon Varlamov will tend the Avs crease. He stopped 40 shots from the Golden Knights for his second shutout of the season.
Winnipeg will go with the same lineup used Saturday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators. Defencemen Dustin Byfuglien (lower body) and Joe Morrow (lower body) did not join their teammates on this three-game road trip, while Nikolaj Ehlers (upper body) skated this morning in a non-contact jersey but isn’t ready to return.
The Jets face Vegas on Friday night and then wrap up the trip in Phoenix on Sunday.
Maurice has stuck with the same lines for several games now, but hinted he’s not adverse to some tinkering, as early as tonight if things go sideways.
“We’ve talked about that an awful lot in the coach’s office, where we would go next. (I) might have two (lineup) cards on the bench tonight so we have an idea of how we’d move things around. But so much is on the game that’s being played,” he said. “The line that you didn’t like last game, you might like an awful lot tonight and you don’t want to change more than you have to. We’re considering that now.
“Moving one or two pieces around sometimes changes the entire lineup. When they come off the bench, who they can play against, those kinds of things. We haven’t moved them around. (Ehlers) is usually the guy that got moved, he’s been out of the lineup for a couple of years, so we haven’t moved players around too much.”
Colorado coach Jared Bednar, meanwhile, made a rather drastic alteration prior to the tilt with Vegas, breaking up the line of centre Nathan MacKinnon and wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.
The dynamic trio had gone cold as of late, and the shakeup paid dividends as the Avs snapped a six-game losing skid on home ice.
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).