Jets getting the most out of Perreault in limited time

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NEW YORK — Mathieu Perreault’s workload has been modest, but it’s hard to deny the Winnipeg Jets are getting an excellent return on their investment.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/12/2017 (1799 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

NEW YORK — Mathieu Perreault’s workload has been modest, but it’s hard to deny the Winnipeg Jets are getting an excellent return on their investment.

Perreault, currently a member of Winnipeg’s fourth line with Joel Armia and Matt Hendricks, is averaging 12:21 of ice time per game, which is almost four minutes less than his totals in each of his three previous seasons with the Jets. At the same time, he has nine goals and 19 points in 24 games.

With the 20-10-6 Jets challenging for top spot in the NHL’s Central Division, Perreault said Friday he’s content with his workload.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Winnipeg Jets Mathieu Perreault at the MTS Iceplex during first on ice day of training camp.

“It’s been great, probably the most fun since I’ve been here,” Perreault said, before enjoying a day off with his teammates in Manhattan. “Winning games just makes everything so much easier.

“We all want more ice, but I’ll take wins over my personal ice time. You want to help the team win, but it’s a long season and there are injuries. I’m just going to stick with it. It’s working for us right now, so I’m fine with it.”

Perreault, in the first year of a four-year contract extension worth US$16.5 million, believes the winning atmosphere has created a more focused, determined team on the ice.

“We’re finding a way to battle through 60 minutes,” Perreault said, referencing a 2-1 shootout loss in Boston Thursday in which the Jets and Bruins slugged it out in a scoreless game until late in the third period. “We have guys who want to score goals, so a 0-0 game would piss guys off last year. But now we’re comfortable playing for the two points and not personal points and I think that makes a big difference.

“We’re comfortable in low-scoring games. Especially on the road, we’re going to come in and do our business.”

In their final game before the Christmas break, the Jets face the high-scoring New York Islanders today at the Barclays Center. Game time is noon.

Veteran defenceman Tyler Myers believes the maturity of the team is plain to see.

“I think we’ve done a lot better job of handling different situations throughout a game,” Myers said. “Whether we go down a goal or up a goal, whether it’s tied late in a game like Matty said, we’re doing a really good job of playing the same way no matter what and I think that’s definitely a result of some of the success we’ve had here in the first 35, 36 games.

“There’s always room to grow and I think the guys have done a really good job of buying into that and trying to be better.”

THEY’RE NO PUSHOVERS: the Islanders have scored 125 goals, which is second best in the NHL, but also have a leaky defence, giving up a league-worst 125 goals.

Head coach Paul Maurice insists the Isles are mislabelled.

“They give up a lot in final numbers, but their other analytics would suggest they’re a better defensive team than you would think,” Maurice said.

“They’re hard forechecking, they’re a veteran group. So it’s going to be the same game we’ve played in the last five. We’ve managed the puck pretty well, we’ve battled pretty hard, didn’t expect it to be smooth. It won’t be a wide open game and it shouldn’t be if we play this one right.

“They have some elite shooters — they’ve got two 21-goal scorers (John Tavares and Anders Lee) in their lineup, which makes them dangerous. How much room you give them is always the key when you’re playing these kind of teams and we’ve been a pretty good tight-gap team the last while.”

MASON GETS THE CALL: Steve Mason will get the start in Winnipeg’s net today, giving Connor Hellebuyck an extended break after a very busy pre-Christmas schedule. The Jets first day back is Dec. 27 when they host the Edmonton Oilers.

“I want Connor to get five clean days (off) so he’s not going to skate (Friday) and he’ll get out there a little bit (Saturday) and we need to be able to handle that as well,” Maurice said. “We’ve got another one of these five-day blocks coming up in January where we play the next day and I wanted him to get a bit of a mental breather.”

Mason, meanwhile, has started just once (a 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues Dec. 16) since missing seven games with a concussion and was due for some game action. Winnipeg has been shut out in each of his last two starts.

“We’d like to get Steve in there, we’d like to score a couple of goals for him,” Maurice said. “It would be a nice change. He’s played really well.”

Maurice also reported captain Blake Wheeler, who injured his hand in Thursday’s overtime, is fine and should be ready to go against the Isles.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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Updated on Saturday, December 23, 2017 8:06 AM CST: Photo added.

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