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Hellebuyck, Jets prepared for 'desperate' Red Wings in rematch

"The most dangerous team in hockey is a desperate team." - Bitetto

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Thursday's game in his home state of Michigan will mean a lot to Connor Hellebuyck.

"The schedule worked out well for us on this one," said Hellebuyck. "It's real easy to get going for this. I'm going to have a lot of friends in the crowd and family. It's easy to get the juices flowing. It's a good feel."

That being said, the goaltender already has his game face on as the Jets hopped on a plane (after a quick practice at Bell MTS Place) to head to Detroit, where they'll take on the Red Wings in the back half of a home-and-home series.

Video: PRACTICE | Connor Hellebuyck

The Jets took the front half by a score of 5-1 on Tuesday night, pushing them to 6-1-1 in their last eight home games.

On the flip side, it also gave the Red Wings their 12th consecutive loss (10th straight in regulation).

But despite the Jets success, there is no shortage of focus heading into the rematch with the Red Wings.

"It was 1-1 until a couple good bounces our way," said Connor, referring to the three goals the Jets scored in a two-minute span near the end of the second period. 

"We have to respect any opponent you play. They get paid too over there. They're not just going to fold over and let that happen again. They have pride over there and they have some veteran guys. It's going to be a battle."

Having that mindset has been important for the Jets. All season, they've gone into every game with the expectation that it isn't going to be easy.

"It builds consistency as a group. No matter who we're playing or what time of year it is, we're going to go out and play as hard as we can and compete as hard as we can," said defenceman Anthony Bitetto. "That was the message day one in the first practice of training camp. It's something that we're buying into. It's pretty cool when everyone is starting to believe in it."

Video: PRACTICE | Kyle Connor

Three skaters didn't take part in the quick practice before the flight to Detroit - Neal Pionk, Tucker Poolman, and Adam Lowry. However, head coach Paul Maurice said it was just maintenance for all three.

"It's similar to the other day. We're trying to get ahead of some things," said Maurice. "Clearly by their performance they're fine to play."

One thing Maurice did stick with, at least for Wednesday's skate, is the lines he finished the game with on Tuesday.

That meant Jack Roslovic on the wing with Andrew Copp and Lowry (whose place was taken by David Gustafsson during practice), as well as Mathieu Perreault on the right wing with Nikolaj Ehlers and Blake Wheeler.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

Here are the full line rushes with Pionk, Poolman, and Lowry off the ice:








Four of Detroit's seven wins this season have come on home ice. Bitetto feels the Jets are ready to face that challenge head on.

"Home-and-homes they're always fun games. It's going to be physical. They're a desperate team. That's the most dangerous team in hockey is a desperate team," said Bitetto. "They have a lot of speed and some talented guys. I expect them to have a full push, but at the same time I think we do what we do and focus on us."

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