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After changing up off-season training, Matthias expects big year

by Jamie Thomas @JamieThomasTV /

WINNIPEG - After playing six-and-a-half seasons with one team, the Florida Panthers, Shawn Matthias bounced around for a little bit in the National Hockey League.

With stops in Vancouver, Toronto and Denver, Matthias is entering his second full season with the Winnipeg Jets and like every player is trying to get through a hectic preseason schedule.

"It's been good even though the exhibition games haven't gone our way," he said. "The guys have been working hard, skating hard, starting to get our legs back. "(We've been) spending lots of time in the weight room and guys are taking advantage of the treatment that's being given to them. Guys are feeling good, you can see it in the mood with fewer guys around (after Sunday's cuts), too, and it's starting to feel like a team again."

The Jets reduced their training camp roster by 13 on Sunday; 12 of which were re-assigned to the Manitoba Moose, including Michael Hutchinson, Julian Melchiori, Buddy Robinson, Cam Schilling and Mike Sgarbossa, who all cleared waivers today.

Winnipeg now has 19 forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders remaining in camp.

Matthias, meanwhile, will skate on the left wing with Andrew Copp and JC Lipon this evening against the Calgary Flames at Bell MTS Place.

"I feel like I put some good work in preparing for (the) season," Matthias said when asked how his training camp has gone. "I'm expecting the best season of my career this year and I'm expecting our team to be competitive and to be in the playoffs come the end of the year."

Matthias' best season - statistically speaking - came with the Canucks in the 2014-15 campaign when he had 18 goals and 27 points over 78 games. What now has him believing he will have the best year of his career?

"I changed everything. Like, everything," Matthias said of his off-season training. "I changed skating coaches; just giving me a new perspective on the game. It helped me out. It's my second year with my new trainer and I think we really dialled it in this year. Diets, I went back to what I used to do in Florida, so I came to camp a lot lighter, a lot leaner. I did really well in fitness training. I truly believe it will be the best season of my career and it's needed because we are going for a push this year, and we need every single guy playing their best."

The Jets are winless thus far in the preseason and goal-scoring hasn't been a strength. The team is working on the defensive side of the game while trying to balance the crazy game-day schedules that they face in September as opposed to the regular season.

"It's definitely different, you're playing with different guys on a lot of the nights and travelling on day of the game which is tough," Matthias said. "Especially the time change, your meals are all messed up. A lot of us are talking about that after the games. You're eating your pre-game meal here [in Winnipeg] at 11 and that's ten o'clock [in Edmonton where the Jets played Saturday night] for a 7pm game. Not to make any excuses, but those are just the things you gotta dial into.

"I would expect a very good game out of our club tonight, to show the fans what to expect come the season. I think you'll get a better impression the next couple of games, but it starts tonight."

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