They have gone winless in three pre-season games and have yet to score an even-strength goal, but Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice insists the lacklustre on-ice results aren’t cause for concern

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This article was published 22/9/2017 (1531 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They have gone winless in three pre-season games and have yet to score an even-strength goal, but Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice insists the lacklustre on-ice results aren’t cause for concern

"I really like the level that we’re at, the effort that’s in camp, the focus by the whole group," Maurice said Friday as the second full week of training camp began.

"We’re working on some really, really specific things. We haven’t done any offensive work. No line rushes really in terms of trying to get pucks. We haven’t done breakouts, counters, regroups. That’s all next week. Next week is speed, the first week was grind. I like where we’re at."

Winnipeg lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild on Monday and fell 4-1 to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday despite icing more NHL-experienced lineups than their opponents in those first two home games. The Jets took a more inexperienced squad to Minnesota on Thursday and lost 1-0.

Maurice said many of those same bubble players will be in the lineup tonight in Edmonton. A major round of cuts is expected to occur on Sunday, which will be an off day for the club.

"So this is a big night for a lot of them," Maurice said of the game against the Oilers. "They get two games of the first four to make their case."

Winnipeg did reduce its training camp roster by five on Friday. Forwards Francis Beauvillier, Patrice Cormier and Brody Sutter, and defencemen Kirill Gotovets and Peter Stoykewych were all sent down to the Manitoba Moose, who begin their week-long training camp Monday at the Bell MTS Iceplex. All five are on American Hockey League deals.

Winnipeg still has 44 players in camp: 25 forwards, 14 defencemen and five goalies.

The Jets are also dealing with a few bumps and bruises. Forward Joel Armia left Thursday’s game early and was not on the ice Friday. Bryan Little also didn’t skate Friday. Maurice said both are day-to-day with minor issues.

"We’re at that point where we’re seven or eight days in without a day off. All grind, so we’ve got just about everybody wearing an ice pack," said Maurice. Forward Matt Hendricks and defenceman Tyler Myers also left Friday’s skate early.

"Basically before we went out we got a lot of hip tightness, a lot of soreness. If you’re running too long you can put yourself in a bad way. So everybody had the green light today if it tightens up," he said.

With a smaller group expected following this weekend — and only three more pre-season games left — there will be a big push to get ready for the Oct. 4 start of the regular season.

"We’re going to look for our play to look differently starting Monday. We’re going hard here," he said.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

 

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.