WINNIPEG -- “Three’s a crowd,” is the old saying, but 3-on-3 overtime in NHL regular season games will be anything but crowded.
"It's going to be a lot of fun. I know I'm jacked up for it,” said Blake Wheeler following his skate on day number two at training camp. “Any time you can create some open space out there I'm all for
The decision to move to 3-on-3 overtime came from the Board of Governors’ meetings in Las Vegas this past June. As a result, the Winnipeg Jets have incorporated it into training camp, with both groups playing an extended 3-on-3 scrimmage today.
“I think at the beginning it’s going to take some getting used to,” Wheeler said. "There’s probably going to be somebody that figures it out before everyone else and make it a real weapon. We’re fortunate in that position, we have some real high-end defencemen that can make us really dangerous in that situation.”
Coach Paul Maurice will try and make the Winnipeg Jets a team that makes overtime a weapon. Thirteen of the Jets’ 99 points in 2014-2015 came in overtime losses, third most in the
Western Conference. Maurice says a lot goes into a 3-on-3 strategy.
“I don’t know that you can take your three best defensive players and say ‘shut another group down.’ There’s just too much ice,” he said. “There’s going to be some great chances. It’s going to be very exciting. I think that was the whole idea with 4-on-4, but they’re going to get it with 3-on-3.”
Maurice added he wasn’t opposed to using three forwards either. But he agrees with Wheeler’s assessment about the team’s defencemen making things happen. Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, and Jacob Trouba finished in the top half of Jets point totals last season.
“The only advantage to having a defenceman is he’s got an awful lot more experience handling [defensive] odd-man rushes than the forwards do," said Maurice. "We’re going to find the personnel that fits. We’ve got at least four defensemen that you would consider offensive. It’s going to be like having three forwards because all those guys will be ahead of our forwards.
“At the end of the day, the percentages say there’s just going to be more games decided 3-on-3, so you’ve got to be good at it.”
TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK
Mark Scheifele spoke with reporters about his off-season training. The 22-year-old once again trained with Gary Roberts in Newmarket, Ontario, and said he was able to add more muscle and weight for 2015-2016. To do that, he used an in-depth test to find exactly what he should be eating.
“It was a DNA test to see what type of diet I should be on. What foods digest well in your system, the percent that you’re a power athlete compared to an endurance athlete,” Scheifele said. “It’s a very intricate system. Half of the things I didn’t understand so I had to get the nutritionist to tell us. It was a pretty cool thing to have done.”
For the second training camp in a row, the Winnipeg Jets hosted Fan Fest inside and outside MTS Iceplex. Thousands took in the beautiful weather and fast-paced hockey, and the line-ups to get
in the building started early. Just ask goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
“I was driving to get here around 7 am and there was a big line up outside,” Pavelec said. “I saw Dancing Gabe over there wearing the jersey. He was excited. It’s good to see. We know we
have great fans.”
Blake Wheeler agrees. Even though he’s in his fifth season in Winnipeg, he says he never takes it for granted.
“The people here have supported us since day one. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I touched on it last year, the reward for that was game three last year in the playoffs. That was a special moment,” he said. “That’s in the past now, we always appreciate their support. They’re going to be an integral part of our success this year because our building is a tough building to play in
when they’re up supporting us.”
Andrew MacWilliam left the ice midway through the second group’s scrimmage with a laceration on his foot. Coach Maurice updated the defenceman’s status following the skate, saying the team is getting it looked at, and his status is day-to-day.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com