They’ve got the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night in the desert and San Jose and Los Angeles on the weekend.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/10/2014 (2611 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They’ve got the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night in the desert and San Jose and Los Angeles on the weekend.

Getting the Winnipeg Jets to look at all past that — like discussing what it might take to turn this squad into a playoff bunch, or the many pre-season predictions that are hardly favourable — is essentially a waste of time.

Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd, Michael Frolik and other teammates wait their turn for drills at the MTS Iceplex Wednesday, as the Winnipeg Jets prepare for their season opener in Arizona Thursday.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd, Michael Frolik and other teammates wait their turn for drills at the MTS Iceplex Wednesday, as the Winnipeg Jets prepare for their season opener in Arizona Thursday.

The mantra as the curtain is about to lift on their season in Arizona? Live in the here and now and don't worry about what the standings might look like next April.

"I think we have to focus on the Arizona Coyotes and then the next game after that," said Jets winger Blake Wheeler Wednesday morning at the MTS Iceplex, just before the team was scheduled to board a plane and head south. "It sounds elementary, but I’m a big believer in not looking too far ahead. Try to take care business tomorrow night, trying to get a good feeling in our locker-room and feeling good about ourselves as a group and build off of that."

'Complete confidence': coach

The Jets were 37-35-10 last year — 18-12-5 under Paul Maurice — and finished 11th in the Western Conference, seven points out of a playoff spot.

Wheeler was asked what it might take to close that gap.

"That’s too broad a spectrum for me. I think we need to focus on smaller goals. We need to focus on how we approach every game, how we prepare ourselves to play every game. Little things like that are going to give us a chance to win every night. The playoffs, the amount of wins we have at the end of the year, that’s going to take care of itself," said the winger. "You can’t just walk into the season and say we’re going to make the playoffs because there’s a huge body of work that goes into making that happen."

Maurice added moe of the same.

"I understand the forward-looking predictions are always clearly based on the past. Our past is... why would you put us at the top of anything right now? We’ve got to crawl our way out of that," said the coach. "My sense is on the bench and in the room is the guys compete for each other, they like each other. They’re optimistic and they’re excited. We’re going to have some good stretches here this year, I know that. We’re going to have some tough stretches here, too. So we’re going to learn to handle both of those as a young team. And I have complete confidence that we are going to be a much better team by the end of the season than we are at the start."

The Jets forward lines Wednesday featured:

  • Bryan Little centring Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik;
  • Mark Scheifele between Evander Kane and Wheeler;
  • Mathieu Perreault with Adam Lowry and Dustin Byfuglien and
  • Jim Slater centring T.J. Galiardi and Chris Thorburn.

The defensive pairings included:

  • Zach Bogosian with Toby Enstrom,
  • Mark Stuart with Jacob Trouba and
  • Grant Clitsome alongside Adam Pardy.

Forwards Anthony Peluso and Matt Halischuk and defenceman Paul Postma all took reps as well.

Maurice said making a decision on his opening-night lineup won’t be easy.

"We’ve got a healthy group of 23 so we’re going to have three guys sit out for the first game of the season and it will be tough for them," he said.

"Each one has done either what they do well or, clearly, have done a lot of good work in the summer. It’s going to be tough for the first one to sit guys out. I’m not looking at anybody that is an easy out."

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait