February 23, 2018

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Mark Scheifele returns to the ice tonight on the No. 1 line

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele returns to the ice tonight after 6 weeks off due to an upper-body injury. (Trevor Hagan/ The Canadian Press files)</p>

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele returns to the ice tonight after 6 weeks off due to an upper-body injury. (Trevor Hagan/ The Canadian Press files)

Mark Scheifele will play his first game for the Winnipeg Jets in more than six weeks tonight and his coach has no plans to ease him back into the lineup.

Scheifele will resume his spot on the club's No. 1 line, centering wingers Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine against the visiting St. Louis Blues (7 p.m., TSN3, TSN 1290), and with a normal workload that job entails. Scheifele missed 16 games with an upper-body injury.

"Just throw him into his normal role -- it's what he understands, it's how he prepares for the game," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice following the club's pre-game skate Friday morning. "We'll ask him just to monitor his shift length. Not make a change from normal but not get into extended situations if he can... He had an upper-body injury, he's been skating, he's been pushing himself so he has that advantage. Conditioning's not an issue from a base. He's a very, very fit man. And then he needs to get right back to being as good as he can be in normal game shape, game quickness...

"There's no reason to think he can't jump right back out and be a great player."

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Mark Scheifele will play his first game for the Winnipeg Jets in more than six weeks tonight and his coach has no plans to ease him back into the lineup.

Scheifele will resume his spot on the club's No. 1 line, centering wingers Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine against the visiting St. Louis Blues (7 p.m., TSN3, TSN 1290), and with a normal workload that job entails. Scheifele missed 16 games with an upper-body injury.

"Just throw him into his normal role — it's what he understands, it's how he prepares for the game," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice following the club's pre-game skate Friday morning. "We'll ask him just to monitor his shift length. Not make a change from normal but not get into extended situations if he can... He had an upper-body injury, he's been skating, he's been pushing himself so he has that advantage. Conditioning's not an issue from a base. He's a very, very fit man. And then he needs to get right back to being as good as he can be in normal game shape, game quickness...

"There's no reason to think he can't jump right back out and be a great player."

Scheifele was pleased to watch his teammates, who fashioned an 11-2-3 record in his absence with Wheeler assuming a heavy workload at centre.

"They've been solid each and every game," said Scheifele. "It's been awesome to watch. Seeing all the boys play the way they have and get the wins they have. It's been fun to watch but obviously it sucks being on the sidelines and not being able to do anything."

Scheifele, who racked up 15 goals and 38 points in 38 games before getting hurt on Dec. 27, has been a full participant in practice for the past week and is eager to get going.

"It's been six weeks since I played a game and I think it's just preparing yourself to play the game you've always played," said Scheifele. "Not focusing on trying anything new. Just getting back to what made you succeed in the past."

Wheeler's experience at centre, he said, should be helpful in the longer term.

"I played wing at the World Cup or the world championship... and I always think that the experience you get playing another position helps you in your position," said Wheeler. "You do see what it's like from the other side. You understand positioning-wise what a winger could be going through or what a centreman could be going through at certain times — something you maybe never understood (before)."

NOTEWORTHY: Goaltenders Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson remain sidelined with concussion although Mason may be closer to returning. "Steve skated again today (before practice),so that's a positive." Eric Comrie has been recalled from the AHL's Manitoba Moose to back up starter Connor Hellebuyck.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Read more by Mike Sawatzky.

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