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GAME DAY: Jets vs Flames (Preseason Game #4)

7:00 pm CT - TV: TSN 3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Jamie Thomas @JamieThomasTV / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Bryan Little has been instrumental in helping Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers become better all-round players during their time together in the National Hockey League.

For tonight's preseason game against the Calgary Flames, Paul Maurice has put two more young players on the 13-year NHL veteran's line in Kristian Vesalainen and Jack Roslovic.

"I have both of them (Vesalainen and Roslovic) almost in the same category. Their upside to how much they are going to get better based on how much more they can learn," said Maurice.

"But I'm going to separate the two because Jack's been here for a little longer. But Jack is going to get an opportunity to again play with a centre that works consistently harder than he does. Now that's not an attack on Jack, that's true of all of these young guys. Bryan Little's consistency is impeccable in his games."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

Roslovic skated with Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp Friday against St. Louis and ended up with playing 17:31 and fired two shots on goal. This time he is welcoming the opportunity to play with and learn from Little as he looks to take another step forward in his development.

"I tend to ask a lot of questions. Hockey related or not on the bench," said Roslovic.

"It's nice to have a guy like that who will have a firm and solid answer for you."

Video: PREGAME | Jack Roslovic

Clearly, the coaching staff is expecting more of Little's consistency to show in Roslovic's game.

"So the game the other night he had two or three just fantastic shifts and then he had two that the coach might have been unkind after seeing it," said Maurice.

"I believe in the young man. I got to get those other games out of him as fast as I can. But I also understand that it's not a complete failure for a young man to not be consistent player yet."

After splitting up Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler for their lone preseason game and the majority of training camp, Maurice has the two All-Star's back together for tonight's battle. Maurice said it was a chance for Copp and Lowry to see a different way to view the game playing with Scheifele and Wheeler.

Ordinarily though, Kyle Connor has been on the left side of Wheeler and Scheifele but for a time last season Nikolaj Ehlers was there and played well. The Danish forward is on there again tonight.

"I liked his (Ehlers) last tour there. I liked his tour in November and December of last year," said Maurice.

"Because I thought his intensity level picked up. His battle level. I can say the same thing about Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine. Anybody that goes there to play with those two, to keep up with those two, the best of your game has to come out. What we need him (Ehlers) to be able to do now is to be able to sustain it. To play at that level, he's not a kid anymore."

Ehlers first preseason game of 2019 has to be looked upon as a success with a goal, an assist and eight shots on goal Friday night.

Here are the lines and D pairings that we saw at the morning skate at Bell MTS Iceplex:

Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler

Vesalainen-Little-Roslovic

Appleton-Spacek-Shaw

Luoto-Suess-Griffith

Heinola-Kulikov

Bitetto-Poolman

Stanley-Green

ICE CHIPS

There has been a steady level of improvement for Jets 2019 first round pick Ville Heinola. The Finnish defenceman played all three games for Winnipeg at the Rookie Showcase Tournament in Belleville, Ontario earlier this month and now has two preseason games on his resume. Maurice though chose a moment in practice where the 18-year-old impressed him the most.

"It's a one-on-one drill where he's with Blake Wheeler and it's a hard drill. Blake's trying to get to the puck to the net and Ville's feet allowed him to stay in the right for a smaller man to take on our biggest, fastest man," said Maurice.

"He didn't give Blake any room. Blake eventually got the puck to the net. Blake didn't stop the drill, he cut back and it was physical contact. For me, that answers all the competitive questions you would have about every young guy."

-- Jamie Thomas, WinnipegJets.com

Game Notes

The Winnipeg Jets finish a three-game pre-season homestand tomorrow when they entertain the Calgary Flames...The Jets are 1-0-1 on the homestand...The Jets visit the Flames on Tuesday in the back half of the home-and-home set.

Last Game

Sep. 20 vs. STL - 4-3 OTL

Jets Scorers: Ehlers (1), Lowry (1), Bourque (1)

Blues Scorers: Kostin (2), Edmundson (1), Perron (1,2)

Jets Goaltender: Hellebuyck (15 sv, 4 ga)

Blues Goaltenders: Allen (18 sv, 2 ga); Husso (10 sv, 1 ga)

Jets PP: 0-for-4

Jets PK: 3-for-3

Recap: The Winnipeg Jets erased a 2-0 first period deficit, but ultimately lost 4-3 in overtime to the St. Louis Blues on Friday night...Nikolaj Ehlers led the Jets with a goal and an assist, while Gabriel Bourque scored a go-ahead goal with 3:01 in the third period...The Blues tied the game with 33 seconds left in the third period to force overtime.

Three Stars: 1. Perron 2. Ehlers 3. Copp

VIEW TONIGHT'S LINE-UP CARD

Perfect PK

The Jets are a perfect six-for-six on the penalty kill during the pre-season...Eight NHL teams remain perfect on the penalty kill during the pre-season...Winnipeg went 79.2% on the penalty kill last season.

Two-for-One

Nikolaj Ehlers, who is playing in his second consecutive pre-season game tomorrow, became the fourth member of the Jets to have a multi-point game in the pre-season when he had a goal and an assist on Friday against the Blues...Blake Wheeler and Andrew Copp each had a goal and an assist on Wednesday against Minnesota, while defenceman Sami Niku had two assists...Mark Scheifele led the Jets with 23 multi-point games last season, while Wheeler was second with 22.

Shooter

Nikolaj Ehlers had eight shots on Friday against the Blues, which is tied for ninth in the NHL during the pre-season...Ehlers has had eight shots or more in a game four times during his career in the regular season, including career high 10 shots on Mar. 2/18 vs. DET (4-3W).

Only One

Goaltender Laurent Brossoit stopped 20 of 21 shots on Wednesday against Minnesota...He's one of six goaltenders in the NHL this pre-season to allow one goal or less in their first outing...Brossoit is coming off a career season in which he was 13-6-2 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

Against the Flames

The Jets went 1-2-0 against the Flames last season, winning the last meeting of the season on Mar. 16 2-1 at Bell MTS Place...Blake Wheeler leads the Jets in career scoring against the Flames with 18 points (6G, 12A) in the 18 games.

Back Outside

The Jets are scheduled to face the Calgary Flames at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Oct. 26 for the 2019 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic...This is Winnipeg's second outdoor game, as the Jets hosted the Edmonton Oilers in 2016 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic at IG Field.

Road Start

The Jets play five of their first six games on the road to begin the regular season, including a four-game road trip to start the season...Winnipeg visits the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, and Pittsburgh Penguins to kick off the 2019-20 campaign...The Jets were 22-18-1 on the road last season, which was 13th in the NHL.

Rookie Recap

The Jets went 1-2 during the Rookie Showcase earlier this month in Bellville, Ont...The Jets rookies beat Montreal 2-1, while they dropped the two games to Ottawa (8-1 and 2-1 OTL)...Cole Maier led the Jets contingent in scoring with three points in three games (1G, 2A).

Pre-Season Sked

The Jets play seven pre-season games in 14 days this month...Winnipeg plays their usual pre-season counterparts twice each - Minnesota, Calgary, and Edmonton - and host the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues on Sept. 20 at Bell MTS Place.

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