WINNIPEG - Before the Winnipeg Jets started practice at Bell MTS Place today, three players stepped out onto the ice in yellow non-contact jerseys in Bryan Little, Dmitry Kulikov and Andrew Copp.
The trio took part of the 30 minute skate and after a tough 6-3 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs they were a welcome sight for their teammates.
"It was great," said Patrik Laine.
"I think it's good for the team and it's good for the guys to be able to come out there with us. They always bring such a good energy on the ice and it was great to see those guys out there."
Video: PRACTICE | Patrik Laine
Considering how long Little, Copp and Kulikov have been injured, unable to skate with the team and the Jets hectic schedule it's only natural that they have been 'forgotten' according to Paul Maurice.
"Not in a negative way, but more in that you deal with the 20 you have in your lineup and then you get all three of them come out today and "whoa those guys pretty good'," said Maurice.
"It's nice to have them out there. Bryan is still in a every second day on and off the ice, he is still kind of heart rate restrained. Right now, we keep it to a certain level and slowly build on it, so there is no time frame for him (to return)."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
So Little did not board the plane to Minnesota to begin the Jets four game road trip, but Copp and Kulikov are going on the trip and are possible at some point to play.
"What has to happen now is that they need to get through. They started bumping today and then they need to feel good tomorrow and do it again," explained Maurice.
"Hit enough days that we can get them up to skating them hard but also adding some bumping into that. It is possible we could see them on this trip, it's also within the realm of being healthy and not having a setback that they wouldn't play and just see how the next week goes."
On top of that, Sami Niku practiced with the Jets for the first time since he was recalled by the Jets and will also head out onto the road. It's been a long and trying season for the 22-year-old defenseman who has been involved in a car accident and had injuries that have held him to a combined 15 games between the Jets and the Manitoba Moose.
"It hasn't been a year I wanted it to be but it's just bad luck and like now I'm good to go again," said Niku.
"First I have to stay healthy and play my game."
Video: PRACTICE | Sami Niku
Blake Wheeler, Mathieu Perreault and Luca Sbisa did not take part of practice today for maintenance reasons and all three will be good to go Saturday against the Wild.
GOING TO KEEP SHOOTING
The first half is officially done for the Jets and one of the bright spots so far has been the gelling of the top line of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor who are the top three scorers on the team after 41 games.
Thursday night, Laine fired a career high 13 shots on Leafs goaltender Frederick Andersen and ended up scoring his 15th goal of the campaign. Laine has been a better all-round player in 2019-20 as he's already passed last seasons total in assists and he's been much better in his own end as well. However, he plans to start shooting more.
"I think as a former goal scorer it would be nice to score," smiled Laine who is still on track to record his fourth consecutive 30 goal season.
"You are not going to score if you don't shoot is kind of my mind set. But still I'm still looking for my line mates because they are almost at 20 goals each (Scheifele - 19, Connor - 21) so they know how to put the puck in the net too, so I got to find them and shoot when I have a chance."