WINNIPEG - Despite it being a busy few days in the headlines for the Winnipeg Jets, training camp and preseason must go on.
The Winnipeg Jets will play their first home game of the exhibition portion of the schedule tonight against the Minnesota Wild.
Since the start of training camp, head coach Paul Maurice has separated the duo of Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler just to add some different looks to his lineup. Wednesday evening the captain will be skating with Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp while Schiefele will have Mathieu Perreault on his left and rookie Andrei Chibisov on his right.
"It'll be fun. Not much English in is his repertoire," said Scheifele of his Russian linemate.
"You know that might be a little bit of an adjustment at the (beginning). I'll be yelling down to Kuli (Dmitry Kulivov) to help me out a little bit but he's a big strong guy that skates well and shoot the puck. It should be fun."
While Chibisov is a new winger for Scheifele, Andrew Copp has played with both Lowry and Wheeler on different occasions during his Jets career. Copp, Lowry and the since departed Brandon Tanev formed one of the better checking lines for the Jets the last couple of seasons. The 25-year-old Copp has played with Wheeler before and will be ready for a pass at any time.
"I've had some time with Wheels and obviously he is one of the best playmakers in the game," said Copp.
"I can't be surprised when the puck gets on my stick. It will be a line that will be pretty heavy, fast and hard to play against. Hopefully we'll have some success here tonight and keep that up for the rest for the preseason."
Back on the blueline, a lot of eyes will be on the defence pairing of Josh Morrissey and Sami Niku. Niku has 31 games of NHL experience playing 30 of them in 2018-19 and Maurice wants Morrissey with the young Finn to provide the role of mentor.
"We're going to have versions of two smaller defencemen at times playing together. I'd like to see Josh play with somebody who can move the puck. A lot of that truly has nothing to do with the play and everything to do with sitting beside the guy on the bench," said Maurice.
"So when Sami Niku comes back with Mo and they're sitting on the bench and they're talking about a play. Sami is going to learn from Mo. A really smart guy. There are some players that will play the game and really can't tell you what happened. There are guys who are just wired a different way. Mo would be a guy who can come back to the bench and tell you where the other nine guys on the ice were."
Morrissey pointed out that during this year's camp he has really appreciated the younger players coming in on the blueline and how they can really skate and move the puck well. That list includes his D partner tonight.
"He's (Niku) a fun guy to play with. A fun guy to watch. A skilled player," said Morrissey.
"Moves the puck well. Again with a guy like Sami, Neal (Pionk) coming in this year, you see some guys, Tucker (Poolman) some players who can really move the puck well. Sami we saw in his opportunity to play last year, he's good on the break outs, he's evasive, he turns off guys really well and makes plays."
Here are the line rushes and defence pairings we saw this morning at Bell MTS Iceplex.
-- Jamie Thomas, WinnipegJets.com
VIEW TONIGHT'S LINE-UPS
The Winnipeg Jets play their first of four home pre-season games tonight against the Minnesota Wild...The Jets visit the Wild on Sept. 29 to close their 2019 pre-season schedule...Following tonight's game, the Jets return to practice at Bell MTS Iceplex on Thursday before hosting the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues on Friday.
Sep. 16 at EDM - 2-0 L
Jets Scorers: None
Oilers Scorers: Neal (1), Nugent-Hopkins (1)
Jets Goaltender: Comrie (31 sv, 2 ga)
Oilers Goaltender: Skinner(18 sv, 0 ga); Wells (7 sv, 0 ga)
Jets PP: 0-for-2
Jets PK: 0-for-0
Recap: The Winnipeg Jets were shutout 2-0 by the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night...Eric Comrie stopped 31 of 33 shots for the Jets...Defenceman Neal Pionk and forward Joona Luoto led the Jets with four shots each, while defenceman Tucker Poolman had a game-high eight hits...Every member of the Jets played at least 12:15 and defenceman Nathan Beaulieu led the team with 21:42 of ice time.
Three Stars: 1. Klefbom 2. Persson 3. Skinner
Top Duo Debuts
Top scorers from a season ago, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are making their pre-season debut tomorrow...Wheeler led the Jets with 91 points (20G, 71A) in 82 games, while Scheifele had 84 points, including a team-leading 38 goals, in 82 games...They were the only two Jets players to average more than a point per game.
The Jets have five players scheduled to play tomorrow in their second game of the pre-season...Defencemen Anthony Bitetto and Tucker Poolman are joined by forwards Joona Luoto, Andrei Chibisov, and CJ Suess...Goaltender Mikhail Berdin dressed as the back up on Monday and is uniform again tomorrow.
Against the Wild
The Jets went 0-5-0 against the Wild last season...One side has won at least four games against the other in three of the last four seasons...Despite going 0-4 against the Wild last season, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck had a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in the four contests against Minnesota.
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.
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.
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).
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.