February 23, 2018

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Record: 35 – 16 – 9

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Winnipeg Jets (35 – 16 – 9)

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Scheifele off the shelf, ready for game action

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>"You can practise as much as you want, but nothing's like a real game," said Scheifele.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

"You can practise as much as you want, but nothing's like a real game," said Scheifele.

Reunited — and it feels so good.

Mark Scheifele was all smiles following Wednesday's practice, as he slotted back into his familiar spot centring the Winnipeg Jets' No. 1 line. Scheifele is expected to make his return to the lineup Friday against the St. Louis Blues at Bell MTS Place.

Based on Wednesday's line rushes, it looks like he'll be flanked by sniper Patrik Laine and captain Blake Wheeler.

"It was awesome to be back and get in some game-like reps," a champing-at-the-bit Scheifele said. "Obviously, being with Wheels feels really good.

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Reunited — and it feels so good.

Mark Scheifele was all smiles following Wednesday's practice, as he slotted back into his familiar spot centring the Winnipeg Jets' No. 1 line. Scheifele is expected to make his return to the lineup Friday against the St. Louis Blues at Bell MTS Place.

Based on Wednesday's line rushes, it looks like he'll be flanked by sniper Patrik Laine and captain Blake Wheeler.

"It was awesome to be back and get in some game-like reps," a champing-at-the-bit Scheifele said. "Obviously, being with Wheels feels really good.

"You can practise as much as you want, but nothing's like a real game."

 

The return of No. 55 will have a domino effect on the roster. Wheeler will go back to the right wing after holding down the centre position during Scheifele's 16-game absence following a shoulder injury on Dec. 27.

Rookie Jack Roslovic was dropped down to the fourth line Wednesday, skating with Nic Petan and Marko Dano. Brendan Lemieux, who was the other winger on that line in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes, was the extra forward at practice.

The other two lines remained intact at practice, with Bryan Little skating between Mathieu Perreault and Nikolaj Ehlers, and Andrew Copp centring Kyle Connor and Joel Armia.

"He's a great player, so we're really happy he's back," Perreault said of Scheifele's return.


The Jets have gone nearly two full months since their last regulation defeat on home ice and are an incredible 20-3-2 on the season at Bell MTS Place.

So, what's the secret to success?

"I like when we’re healthy how we can match with the other teams," coach Paul Maurice said after Tuesday's victory. "We have enough depth. We’ve got a good balance here of guys that can grind and certainly enough offence that we can score goals.

"It should be an advantage to (play at home), but in order to do that you have to have a certain structure in your lineup, and we’re closer to that, where we want to be with that structure, then any of my time here."

Winnipeg is now 9-0-1 in their last 10 home games, outscoring opponents 33-16 in that span. Their last regulation defeat came on Dec. 14 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The only other two regulation losses this season came in their first three home games of the season (Oct. 4 vs. Toronto and Oct. 17 vs. Columbus). That means they are 19-1-2 since then.

"For the most part, we’ve come out ready to go. Right off the hop. Just sticking to our game plan," said veteran defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. "We’ve been working on things, just to stay consistent and be ready for the long stretch down the road. We’ve been doing a good job at sticking to our program."


It took the Jets just 30 seconds to open the scoring Tuesday, the 32nd time in 54 games that they've lit the lamp before their opponents.

And that's been a major factor in the team's success, given the Jets are 25-1-6 when they get on the board first, and 7-12-3 when they don't. They have similar eye-popping stats when they hold a lead after the first period (19-1-2) and the second period (25-0-1). Winnipeg is 6-8-0 when trailing after the first, and 1-12-2 when down after two.

In other words, teams that give up the first goal or head into either intermission trailing the Jets are in big trouble this season.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Read more by Mike McIntyre.

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