WINNIPEG - Tyler Myers has been waiting for this day for a long time.
Even though it's only a preseason game, and it doesn't count for any points in the standings, tonight's match up with the Edmonton Oilers will be his first game since Nov. 11, 2016.
"I'm excited to get back out there and skate with the guys again," said Myers. "For me it's just focusing on doing the little things, especially in exhibition; just quick simple plays and not trying to force anything. We've got a lot of scoring power up front, so just get the puck to those guys and get to work."
With three surgeries behind him, and his son Tristan doing well after his health scare last season, Myers came into camp wanting to play in every single preseason game he could.
"I had a conversation with (head coach) Paul (Maurice) right before camp started… He pulled the reigns back a little bit," Myers said with a grin. "However many games I get I'll make the best of it. Try and focus on where I left off at the start of last year. I watched a little more video coming into this year just because I didn't have that playing time. I'm feeling good and I'm ready to go."
Video: PREGAME | Tyler Myers
Maurice has said throughout camp that the 27-year-old defenceman's conditioning has been impressive, and now he looks forward to having Myers back on the blue line.
"He looks just excited to be back doing his job without the weight of the world or an injury on his mind. He's been outstanding in his play," said Maurice. "A lot of veterans come back in and kind of dread the first four or five days, and he was like a rookie trying to make the team. He was all over the ice and looked big and strong. I'm happy for him."
While Myers will be putting on the Jets jersey for the first time in 314 days, Steve Mason and Dmitry Kulikov will wear Winnipeg colours for the first time ever, after signing with the team on July 1.
"It'll be good to get out there and get some of the rust off," said Mason. "We've all been off for an extended period of time here. Getting back into it, nothing is ever going to go as smoothly as you want it to right off the bat. But that's what the exhibition is for, to work on some things. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and playing in some game situations and continue to work on some things we've worked on so far in camp."
Video: PREGAME | Steve Mason
Mason, 29, has a career 0.911 save percentage, and has experience playing behind a new team. He was traded from Columbus to Philadelphia in 2013, and said communication between him and his teammates in front of him is key.
"Those are things that will come in the coming days here. For tonight we're going to try and keep it simple, simple commands when I'm out playing the puck," said Mason. "Communication has to be loud and early. With that, we'll try and keep it as simple as possible and limit the mistakes."
Kulikov, a first round pick in 2009, is similar to Myers in that he's trying to put a season hampered by injury behind him. A back injury sustained after a collision with an open door along the boards limited the 26-year-old to 47 games in 2016-17.
"Practices are one thing, but the games is where you get to know your teammates," said Kulikov.
"Basically get in game mode and get into the rhythm. Preseason or not preseason, you always want to play your best hockey. These games don't really count to some players, but it's always good to go out and play your best no matter what the games mean."
Video: PREGAME | Dmitry Kulikov
The morning skate was optional this morning, so the team didn't do any formal line rushes. Maurice said it's a result of the training camp schedule, but he wouldn't be opposed to seeing it more often.
"We want them on the ice once. This is an unusual time of year, they'll go eight (or) nine days without not being on the ice," he said. "It's something I'd like to see our team think about, and our players think about."
Puck drop is set for 7 pm CT at Bell MTS Place.
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
Nineteen of the 20 players expected to suit up for the Jets tonight have at least one game of NHL experience...The lone exception is rookie defenceman Sami Niku, who is making his NHL preseason debut...Like on Monday, tonight's lineup also features Winnipeg's top seven scorers from last season - Mark Scheifele (82 pts), Blake Wheeler (74 pts), Patrik Laine (64 pts), Nikolaj Ehlers (64 pts), Dustin Byfuglien (52 pts), Bryan Little (47 pts) and Mathieu Perreault (45 pts)...Those seven players are the only players scheduled to play in both games.
The Winnipeg Jets continue their seven-game pre-season schedule tonight by hosting the Edmonton Oilers at Bell MTS Place…The Jets lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild at home on Monday night to open the pre-season…Next up for the Jets is a trip to Minnesota tomorrow, followed by a trip to Edmonton on Saturday… The Jets next home action is next Monday against the Calgary Flames.
Against the Oilers
The Jets lost all three games to the Oilers last season, including the 2016 Heritage Classic 3-0 on Oct. 23 at Investors Group Field…The three games were played at three different venues - Investors Group Field, Bell MTS Place and Rogers Place…Winnipeg's last regular season win over the Oilers came on Feb. 13/16 2-1 in a shootout in Edmonton…The Jets last victory against the Oilers at home happened on Feb. 16/15 5-4 in a shootout…Four of Winnipeg's last five regular season wins against Edmonton have come in overtime or a shootout…Bryan Little leads the Jets in scoring against the Oilers with 11 points (6G, 5A) in 12 games, while Dustin Byfuglien (2G, 8A) and Blake Wheeler (1G, 9A) have 10 points each… Tonight's starting goaltender Steve Mason is 9-4 with one shutout all-time against the Oilers.
The Jets went 2-for-10 on the power play against Minnesota on Monday…Since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011, the most power play opportunities the Jets have been afforded in a game during the regular season is eight, which has happened three times - Nov.19/11 vs. PHI, Jan. 13/14 vs. ARI, Nov. 16/14 at MIN…Thefranchise record for most power play opportunities is 15 and happened on Oct. 8/05 vs. WSH while the franchise was in Atlanta.
On Tuesday, JetsTV's Jamie Thomas caught up with Jets hopeful Kyle Connor, along with coaches Paul Maurice and Pascal Vincent, to discuss how the talented youngster adapted with only 8:39 of ice time in Monday's penalty filled preseason opener.
Video: CAMP | Being a Pro
Meanwhile, across the dressing room, Mitchell Clinton went one-on-one with Jack Roslovic to get a closer look at the 20-year-old, who's making a push with the big club after an impressive rookie campaign with the Manitoba Moose last year.
The Jets opened their 2017 preseason schedule with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild. Mathieu Perreault and Patrik Laine had the goals for Winnipeg, while Connor Hellebuyck stopped 34 of 36 shots. Ryan Dittrick has the story.