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New-look Jets determined to be better

Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 4:09 PM

By Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent / Training Camp 2013 blog

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Training Camp 2013 blog
New-look Jets determined to be better

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets retained their coaching staff this summer, but it will have a new look.

The Jets coupled a 30th-place showing on the power play last season with the penalty kill's 24th-place finish. The organization has made retooling the club's special-teams play a top priority.

To that end, coach Claude Noel announced that assistant coach Pascal Vincent will focus on the power play, while veteran assistant Perry Pearn will work on fixing the club's penalty kill, with help from Charlie Huddy.

"We have to be better," Noel said.

Rookie center Mark Scheifele, who will battle veteran Olli Jokinen for the center spot on the club's second line, is a likely power-play option for Noel. If Scheifele does see power-play time, it will be another opportunity for a 20-year-old upon whom the Jets are counting heavily.

Joining Scheifele is defenseman Jacob Trouba, the team's first-round selection (No. 9) in the 2012 NHL Draft, who also will receive a look on what is a crowded Winnipeg blue line. However, the 19-year-old's bid for a roster spot will face a challenge from veteran Ian White, a training camp invitee.

"We'll take a look at him and evaluate that situation day-by-day," Noel said of White, who has 503 games of NHL experience and played last season with the Detroit Red Wings.

In all, the Jets will have 58 players at camp. While this season's destinations for Scheifele, Trouba and White remain unknown, two pieces crucial to Winnipeg this season will return needing to rebound from last season.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec played in 44 of 48 games last season, but his .907 save percentage ranked 34th among NHL goaltenders. Calibrating Pavelec's workload with his play will be a major task for Noel, who allowed that he has a "rough number" of games in mind for Pavelec this season.

"We'll just take it day-by-day and see how that goes and how he feels," Noel said. "We want to put him into a situation where he feels comfortable and has a chance to succeed and [feel] good.

"I think that Pavelec is capable of handling those games. We have to see how it goes. We have to see how he feels and take it from there."

Another major question for the Jets is defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. The team's defensive anchor struggled last season and Noel even benched him during an April 4 road game against the Montreal Canadiens. The two spoke often this summer, according to Noel.

"I look at him today and he looks very well," Noel said. "He looks fit. I'm very happy to see where he is at. We just want him to be a guy that plays up to his capabilities. We know that his 'A' games can have an impact."

Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals