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This article was published 23/2/2021 (334 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Jets have been in a lot of close games this season. And more often than not they're on the winning side of things.
Of the Jets' 18 games played already this season, 10 have been decided by a single goal. Then there were three other games decided by two goals, but included a late empty-netter.
In these 13 games, the Jets are 7-5-1. They're also 4-1 in the remaining five games, meaning if they're not ending the night with two points, the Jets are at least in the fight each night. To strengthen that argument, Winnipeg has only once this season lost in consecutive games, and even on the lone occasion they were able to salvage a point by losing in a shootout to the Calgary Flames back on Feb. 1.
"I’m going to say it’s leadership and I’m going to say it has a big part to do with our season last year. We went through that year last year with, whatever it is, 60 per cent of your blue line not there on opening night and you get crushed by injuries — we stayed in the fight, stayed in the fight, and that became our game. Just stay in it," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said following Tuesday's practice.
"Whether you lost one or you lost two, you wound yourself back up to come in and compete the next night. I still think that’s in our room. I think that’s how they prepare in the room when they’re going out. There is an edge. We’re not pounding the table at any point in this season saying, ‘hey we’re rolling now, we’ve been great.’ We’ve felt a lot of scratch and claw in all these games."
INJURY UPDATE: The Jets were down a number of players for practice Tuesday, including absences to forwards Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nate Thompson, as well as defencemen Josh Morrissey and Tucker Poolman. Even No. 1 goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was missing from the main group.
Maurice calmed any concern by noting besides Poolman, the rest of the players out was simply to monitor minor injuries. As for Hellebuyck, he took to the ice prior to Tuesday's main workout, putting in time with goalie coach Wade Flaherty. The Jets are carrying three goalies on the roster, so Laurent Brossoit and Anton Forsberg took care of the duties between the pipes.
Poolman suffered an upper-body injury in Sunday's win over the Vancouver Canucks. Maurice said the young defenceman, who has already missed notable time this season as he recovered from COVID-19, would need another day before being evaluated.
"We’ll list him as upper body, day-to-day. He may be on the ice (Wednesday), then again, he may not," he said. "All of the other players are expected to practise (Wednesday)."
ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL...
A size-large grin spread across Andrew Copp's face when he was asked to explain a drill in practice that included putting centre Mark Scheifele and winger Kyle Connor on their butts during a particularly engaging battle drill.
"I think me and (linemate Mason) Appleton got scored on the shift before by Scheif and KC. One of us thought we got interfered with, one of us thought we got held, so any time you get scored on in practice by your teammates, I think the intensity starts to ramp up a little bit. It's all fun and games till someone gets scored on," Copp says through a giggle. "I think we took that a little personally. I've seen Scheif play with the puck a million times and knew the cutback was coming, so I decided to throw a little shoulder in the chest. I wasn't looking for anything dirty or anything like that. But I think my friend card was revoked for the rest of the day."
He added: "He didn't have any words for me. I think he just kind of gave me a stare and I tried to tap him on the shin pad after practice. And he's like, 'You're dead to me today.' I don't know, we'll see how serious he is."
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.