REGINA - The prairie winds are whipping through Regina, Saskatchewan on Heritage Classic game day, the temperature is expected to drop below freezing at puck drop, but neither of those things have been able to cool the enthusiasm for tonight's game between the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames.
In fact, Jets head coach Paul Maurice thinks the wind might actually keep the coaches happy.
"If you have to back check into the wind, you probably shouldn't turn that puck over. We'll be selling that hard tonight," said Maurice.
"The outdoor game in Winnipeg - it's a windy place. We thought it was going to be tough all day and we got out there and it seemed to settle. We'll see come game time."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
Simplicity will be key for both teams tonight. That was one of the big lessons the nine Jets who played in the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in Winnipeg took away from the on-ice experience.
"There is a little bit of an advantage knowing the ice might get a little worse a little quicker," said Lowry. "You might have to alter some of your decision making. You might think you have a clean pass, but the better option is to put it to the net. Sometimes in these games - whether it's the first playoff game or big events like this - the first few shifts, guys tend to want to do a little too much and put on a show. We have a lot of experience in that."
The Jets are the home team tonight in Regina, but with the Saskatchewan capital being about halfway between Winnipeg and Calgary, it's tough to predict if the Jets will have the edge in crowd support.
Lowry played the entirety of his Western Hockey League career about 240 kilometres away from Regina in Swift Current. Regardless of what team the fans cheer for, Lowry knows they'll be loud.
"We always had such good support," said Lowry. "Travelling throughout Saskatchewan and going to some of the other cities and seeing that they get behind their junior teams. Obviously the support they have for the Riders is huge. Anywhere you go, you see a lot of green. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of green tonight."
Video: PREGAME | Adam Lowry
The Jets will make one line-up change tonight from the group that dropped a 3-2 decision to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Tucker Poolman will draw back in after missing that game with a minor injury. As a result, Ville Heinola will come out of the line-up.
The team didn't hold a formal morning skate on Saturday, but based on Friday's outdoor practice at Mosaic Stadium, the Jets lines are expected to look like this:
Following a five-game home stand that saw the Jets win once, they're looking to get back on track against the Flames, who picked up a 6-5 shootout win over Washington two nights ago.
"We don't like our game against the Kings. That started with the first period and that started with our start," Lowry said.
"It's trying to get that good feeling back. Whether it's playing at home, on the road, or playing in a neutral site - start trying to build. That's what we've talked about in the room is just continuing to get better, continuing to build. Hopefully we can get on a roll starting tonight."
Video: PREGAME |Mark Scheifele
Winnipeg heads out on a three-game road trip after tonight's game. While the two points on the line tonight will be the same as all the nights going forward, Maurice said the players on the ice will likely settle into the game quicker than he anticipates he will.
That's one thing he remembers from the 2016 Heritage Classic, the points may be the same - but the event is unlike any other.
"The atmosphere is completely different," he said, adding it's hard to determine what plays to keep for video analysis going forward.
"All we're selling tonight is the story that we've been preaching for the last week or two. Our game. I'll probably not yell as much tonight. Seriously, I won't complain as much."
Puck drop is set for 9 pm CT.
After Nathan Beaulieu skated in a non-contact jersey in practice yesterday, Maurice gave an update on the defenceman's expected return.
He feels Beaulieu - who has missed 11 games with an upper-body injury - could be an option on the upcoming road trip.
"We're hopeful that he gets into regular contact uniform," said Maurice. "He's been working hard off ice. We don't think there is much turnaround. Once he gets green-lighted to go, he'll be a player."
Maurice also said the team will recall a forward from the Manitoba Moose with Mason Appleton breaking a bone in his foot yesterday. That forward has yet to be determined, but will meet the Jets later in the trip.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets face the Calgary Flames in the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic tonight in Regina at Mosaic Stadium...The Jets are coming off a 1-4-0 homestand, which ended with a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night...After tonight's game, the Jets travel to California for a three-game road trip, which begins Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Oct. 22 vs. LAK - 3-2 L
Jets Scorers: Connor (4), Ehlers (4)
Kings Scorers: Wagner (2), MacDermid (1), Kopitar (4)
Jets Goaltender: Hellebuyck (38 sv, 3 ga)
Kings Goaltender: Quick (26 sv, 2 ga)
Jets PP: 0-for-5
Jets PK: 3-for-4
Recap: The Jets came back to tie the game twice, but ultimately lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night...Nikolaj Ehlers paced the Jets with a goal and an assist...Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck matched a season-high with 38 saves...Adam Lowry led the Jets with five hits.
Three Stars: 1. Hellebuyck 2. Kopitar 3. Quick
READ THE GAME NOTES
Tomorrow is the fourth neutral site regular season game for the Jets in franchise history...The Jets lost 3-0 to the Edmonton Oilers at IG Field in Winnipeg at the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic on Oct. 23/16...Last season, the Jets split a pair of games against the Florida Panthers at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, winning 4-2 on Nov. 1 and losing 4-2 on Nov. 2.
Party in the Pacific
Tomorrow is the fourth of eight games Winnipeg plays against Pacific Division opponents in 10 outings...The Jets are 1-2-0 against the Pacific Division this season after going 16-6-2 against Pacific Division opponents last season, which was the most wins against the division by a team outside the division...Winnipeg was 17-4-2 against Pacific Division foes in 2017-18 and is on a 26-9-4 run in their past 39 games versus the Pacific...Since 2017-18, Blake Wheeler leads the Jets in scoring against the Pacific Division with 42 points (8G, 34A) in 51 games, while Kyle Connor has a team-leading 21 goals...In goal, Connor Hellebuyck is 28-7-4 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .919 save percentage during that time against the Pacific.
Schedule Opens Up
After playing 11 games in 20 days to start the season, tonight is the first of two games the Jets play during the course of nine days...Winnipeg's 11 games played this season is tied for fourth most in the NHL this season...The Jets have two days or more off between games for five of their next six games.
Despite the Jets going 1-3-0, Connor Hellebuyck has a 2.26 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in his past four games...Hellebuyck has faced at least 35 shots in four of his eight starts this season...He's faced 267 shots this season, which is third in the NHL...The Jets are averaging 1.75 goals for in games Hellebuyck has played this season, compared to 3.27 goals for last season.
Four players on the Jets roster played in Regina against the Pats during their junior hockey careers in the WHL - Laurent Brossoit (Edmonton Oil Kings - 2008-13), Adam Lowry (Swift Current Broncos - 2009-13), Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert Raiders/Kelowna Rockets - 2010-15), and Luca Sbisa (Lethbridge Hurricanes/Portland Winterhawks - 2007-10)...Morrissey had 10 points (4G, 6A) in 10 games in Regina, while Lowry had seven points (3G, 4A) in 12 games at Brandt Center.
Nikolaj Ehlers was in on both of Winnipeg's goals on Tuesday with a goal and an assist for his third multi-point game of the season...He had eight multi-point games last season...He has a shot in all 11 games for the Jets this season.
How the Jets Were Built
Drafted (14) - Appleton, Connor, Copp, Ehlers, Gustafsson, Heinola, Hellebuyck, Laine, Little, Lowry, Morrissey, Poolman, Scheifele, Roslovic
Trade (3) - Beaulieu, Pionk, Wheeler
Free Agency (6) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Kulikov, Letestu, Perreault
Waivers (2) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa