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Heavy dose of the Central looms as Jets hit the road

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets


WINNIPEG
On the road again.

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.

Passport? Check. Phone? You bet (and I didn’t even forget my charger this time). Luggage? Good to go.

The Winnipeg Jets are heading back out on the road after a brief trip home, and over the next eight days, they’ll travel more than 3,500km in a four-game journey around the Central Division.

With stops in Minnesota, Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis, the Jets are in the midst of playing nine games in nine different cities.

“It’s definitely a big road trip for us,” Bryan Little said before boarding a two o’clock flight. “There are always big points up for grabs when you’re playing teams in your division. First up is Minnesota, which is a tough team, and a team we like to play against. They’re big points for us, so we’re looking to start the trip off right tomorrow. … I look forward to it. It’s a challenge and something I’ve
gotten used to over the past couple years with the schedule we’ve had.”

The combined record of the Wild, Stars, Predators and Blues is 38-12-5, meaning the Jets will have to be at their best, “in all parts of (their) game,” as Head Coach Paul Maurice said, to come out on top, beginning tomorrow at Xcel Energy Center.

“Because of that familiarity [of the Central Division], there’s an edge to the game,” Maurice said. “I think they’re more fun to coach and to fun to play in. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty good puck fight and those games are fun to be a part of.”

The Jets are 0-1-1 in their past two games and while the team has yet to have its ‘identity-defining’ performance, they’ve yet to lose two in a row in regulation.

“I think we’re still looking to put a full 60 minutes together,” Little said. “We’ve come close to doing that, we’ve had some games where we’ve played well and for the most part, the entire game, but there’s been a few letups.

“It’s a different team [this season], so we’re going to have a new identity with the new players and all the young guys we have.”

The Jets are 8-5-2 so far this season, giving them 18 points and a share of fifth in the Central.

COPP WATCH

Andrew Copp participated in practice today after missing the past three games with an undisclosed injury. According to Maurice, the “expectation” is that he’ll play tomorrow. As a result, Patrice Cormier has been re-assigned to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.

“Everybody will be ready to go tomorrow,” Maurice said. “Andrew had a couple good days on the ice yesterday and feels strong, feels good, so he looks ready to go.”

Copp scored his first NHL goal in last week’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, but hasn’t played since.

“It’s hard to watch anytime,” he said. “You want to be out there contributing in any way possible, but it is what it is and you’ve got to work through it.”

-- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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