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Posted On Monday, 01.13.2014 / 5:30 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maurice ready for challenge as Jets' new coach

WINNIPEG -- Paul Maurice began his first day on the job as the Winnipeg Jets' new coach Monday.

The 46-year-old with 1,084 games behind NHL benches arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday night, met briefly with his new team Monday and then conducted the morning skate at MTS Centre prior to the game Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Maurice has coached the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise on two separate occasions with the Toronto Maple Leafs sandwiched between. Maurice last coached in the League in 2011 before the Hurricanes replaced him with Kirk Muller. Maurice spent the 2012-13 season in the Kontinental Hockey League with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff reached out last week to Maurice, who has been working as a TSN studio analyst this season, to gauge his potential interest in taking over the Jets' coaching job for Claude Noel.

"It was very, very quick," Maurice said of his negotiations with Cheveldayoff. "Didn't take long. I wanted to be here."

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Posted On Monday, 01.13.2014 / 2:27 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maurice to make Jets coaching debut against Coyotes

WINNIPEG -- The Phoenix Coyotes will become the latest team to see a new-look version of the Winnipeg Jets when they play Monday at MTS Centre.

The Jets fired coach Claude Noel on Sunday and replaced him with Paul Maurice. Maurice arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday evening and met with his new players briefly Monday before the team's morning skate.

Before Noel departed he shuffled the Jets' lines and defensive pairings several times. The changes culminated with the move of defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to the team's top line this past Saturday in Noel's final game behind the Jets' bench, a 6-3 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Maurice shuffled the lines again Monday. With Evander Kane (hand) expected to miss his second straight game, Michael Frolik will join captain Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little on the first line. Byfuglien will skate with Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi while leading goal-scorer Blake Wheeler will play alongside Mark Scheifele and Chris Thorburn. Forward Eric Tangradi (flu) missed the morning skate and is not expected to play.

Asked what he expects from his new team against Phoenix, Maurice admitted that he does not know what to expect.

"I'm going to be completely honest with you," he said. "Your guess is as good as mine."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.11.2014 / 1:41 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Byfuglien at forward highlights Jets' shuffle

WINNIPEG – The made-over Winnipeg Jets will attempt to end their four-game losing streak Saturday when they meet the Columbus Blue Jackets at MTS Centre.

The Blue Jackets claimed a 3-0 home win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday before making the long flight to Winnipeg. The Blue Jackets' early-morning arrival in Winnipeg meant that they did not hold a morning skate Saturday.

Winnipeg's slide to the bottom of the Central Division has spurred coach Claude Noel to shuffle all four of his forward lines, headlined by defenseman Dustin Byfuglien assuming a spot on the right side of the Jets' top unit with Bryan Little and captain Andrew Ladd.

"It's something I've just got to go out and do," Byfuglien said of his switch to forward. "I'm just here to work."

Noel said he will be patient with Byfuglien, who had a limited stint at forward last season.

"It's a lot different playing forward and defense, Noel said. "I think we have to be patient in our assessment of things."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 3:20 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Lightning's Stamkos keeps sights set on Olympics

WINNIPEG -- Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos faces one final obstacle in his bid to represent Canada at the Sochi Olympics in February.

The 23-year-old center broke his right tibia after crashing into the net in a road game against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11, and the injury has cost him 25 games. Despite the injury, Hockey Canada named Stamkos to their Olympic team for the first time. Stamkos has scored 14 goals in his 17 games with the Lightning this season and would be a first-time Olympian.

"You're on the team right now," Stamkos said after participating in the Lightning's optional morning skate before their game against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. "That really doesn't mean anything if I can't get back and play. This is a dream come true to be named to the team, but I still have a hard work ahead of me in order to make sure I can play."


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 1:54 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning look to finish trip on positive note

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning wrap a four-game trip through Western Canada when they meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre, but they will do so without goaltender Ben Bishop.

The Lightning are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games, a span that has seen them allow 20 goals. Five of those goals-against came in a 5-3 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

Bishop, who exited the game at Edmonton with a right hand injury, will not dress for the Lightning against Winnipeg. His status for the Lightning remains undetermined and coach Jon Cooper indicated he will know more about Bishop's status when the Lightning return home.

The Lightning recalled goaltender Cedrick Desjardins from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League to back up Anders Lindback.


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 2:04 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres looking to duplicate success against Jets

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will attempt to avoid duplicating a hard-learned lesson when they meet the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at MTS Centre.

The Sabres dealt the Jets a 4-2 defeat two weeks ago in Buffalo. The loss extended a pattern for the Jets of losing to teams placed well below them in the overall League standings.

However, that game in Buffalo sparked a surge for the Sabres (11-24-4), who have gone 3-1-1 since the win against the Jets and have defeated the Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes and Washington Capitals.

The trip into Winnipeg begins a two-game road trip for the Sabres, who conducted an optional morning skate at MTS Centre, but they intend to duplicate the composed, structured game that they played against the Jets earlier this month.

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Posted On Friday, 12.27.2013 / 3:35 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild, minus Parise, look to snap skid

WINNIPEG -- Two struggling teams resume their schedule Friday when the Minnesota Wild make a return appearance to MTS Centre to face the Winnipeg Jets.

The Wild have lost three consecutive games and five of their past seven. In facing Winnipeg the Wild will conclude a stretch of seven road dates in their past eight games, a stretch that has seen them win one game away from home. Even with a three-day break to refresh, the Wild's 6-11-3 road record has left the team eager to begin remedying it.

"I think that if you're struggling a bit you just want to get back at it as fast as you can," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said.

Wild coach Mike Yeo again will be without left wing Zach Parise (lower body), who will miss his second consecutive game. Defenseman Clayton Stoner (lower body) also will not dress. Goaltender Josh Harding remains on injured reserve but participated in the team's morning skate Friday. Yeo indicated he was pleased with Harding's showing.

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Posted On Friday, 12.20.2013 / 3:21 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets focused on ending home skid as Panthers visit

WINNIPEG -- The team that played a role in triggering the Winnipeg Jets' latest slump makes a return appearance Friday at MTS Centre.

The Florida Panthers, who beat the Jets 5-2 at BB&T Center on Dec. 5, arrived from Ottawa at 3 a.m. Friday looking to move their winning streak to six games when they play the struggling Jets.

The Panthers’ early-morning arrival meant they did not hold a morning skate at MTS Centre. Florida is on a 7-1-0 run after a 4-2 come-from-behind win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. A four-game Canadian road trip ends here before the Panthers return home for a five-game homestand. The five-game winning streak is their longest since March 2012.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 3:06 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Avalanche look to stay even-keeled, end slump

WINNIPEG -- The Colorado Avalanche arrived in Winnipeg on Wednesday lugging what passes for a slump in their turnaround season as they prepare to meet the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Fresh off a 3-1 home loss against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, the Avalanche own a two-game winless streak and have lost three of their past four games, scoring seven goals in that period.

Scoring has been an issue for the Avalanche lately. Captain and leading scorer Gabriel Landeskoghas two goals and four assists in his past nine games. Center Matt Duchene, the team’s second-leading scorer with 21 points, has one assist in his seven games since returning from an oblique injury that caused him to miss three games.

"We've been struggling offensively," Duchene said after the morning skate. "We've got a lot of guys not scoring now. Every team goes through that at some point in the season."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:16 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues looking for better starts

WINNIPEG -- While the Winnipeg Jets' three-game homestand needs a good start Tuesday, it will be the visiting St. Louis Blues looking to reverse a trend of poor first-period showings.

The Blues visit Winnipeg fresh off a 5-2 loss Saturday to the Anaheim Ducks in which they allowed three goals in the opening seven minutes. In a stretch of three losses in the past four games, opponents have outscored the Blues in the first period 9-1.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock put his team through practice Monday before departing for Winnipeg and saw a similar pattern play out.

"[Monday] was a slow start and a great finish," Hitchcock said with a chuckle after the team's morning skate Tuesday. "Kind of like our games. I think for us we just have to play the right way earlier and not dig ourselves a hole. I think every team goes through these lulls. Ours seem to be in the first period.

"But I think we won't have a choice with Winnipeg having a first game back after such a long break and the fans the way they are here. They're going to be engaged at the start, so I don't think we have any choice but to get engaged here."


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Quote of the Day

That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews on teammate Antoine Vermette, who returned from being a healthy scratch in Game 3 to score the double-overtime winner in Game 4