WINNIPEG – The standard is set. The intensity, full bore. “There’s no play fighting, even between brothers,” as Head Coach Paul Maurice describes it.
Day of 3 of Winnipeg Jets Training Camp was the most action-packed of the weekend, leaving many – media, fans and players alike – with a lasting impression of what’s to come.
Their seemingly bulletproof identity was on full display in the early afternoon Sunday, as many of the veterans and a sampling of youngsters reconvened at MTS Iceplex for a scrimmage that looked anything but the show one would expect in mid September.
When the dust settled, Team Blue emerged with a 5-4 victory after two, 25-minute run time periods and an extended look at 3-on-3 overtime.
Andrew Copp (2), Brendan Lemieux, Jay Harrison and Dustin Byfuglien scored for Blue, while Mathieu Perreault, Nikolaj Ehlers, Paul Postma and Jacob Trouba answered back for White, but the offensive production was hardly the story. The fast-paced game had a bit of a snarl to it, with more than a handful of heated scrums, punishing hits and a relentless banter between the benches.
“After a scrimmage like that, I’m not scratching names off. I’m circling guys that probably deserve more of a look based on that,” Maurice said.
“That was great intensity. That’s a real good sign. It’s not even an exhibition game and guys were giving it everything they had. … I liked it. I wouldn’t have back-to-back scrimmages right now based on what I saw. If I had a scrimmage scheduled for tomorrow, I’d call it off. You don’t want to lose that (intensity) and that was enough.
“We didn’t scrimmage last year because we had to go over a lot of things. This year we felt it would be good to have a lot of scrimmages — the guys wanted to scrimmage to help get their timing and their hands (back). After this [weekend] we’re going to play back-to-back (Minnesota and Edmonton) and every second night until training camp is over, so there’s not as much as a coach that you can do. After tomorrow — and I won’t even run them too hard tomorrow — the real stiff part of camp
is over and we can get focused on tightening up the groups.”
Blue had a 4-1 lead at the end of the second period, but White rallied in the final 20 minutes, which was dedicated entirely to 3-on-3.
This is the second straight day the Jets have practiced 3-on-3 overtime, which is a new rule in the NHL this season. In addition to seeing it throughout the regular campaign, the Jets will experience it with three times in the pre-season (Sept. 23 and 25 vs. Edmonton and Oct. 1 vs. Calgary), regardless of the final score.
“If a play doesn’t work out, before you know it there’s an odd-man rush going the other way,” Drew Stafford said. “It might take a little while to get adjusted as far as routes and assignments go, but for the most part you have to be more diligent on the reload. If you miss a shot or if there’s a play at the net that doesn’t work out, you’ve got to get your butt back or else it’s going to be a 2-on-1. … But
if you cheat and they miss, then you get a 2-on-1.
“It will definitely be entertaining for the fans.”
It certainly was today.
Alexander Burmistrov was one of those in on the action. While he didn’t score, the shifty forward has plenty of chances around the net, but was bested by goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
“Everyone was thinking (the pace) was too fast,” he laughed. “Everyone’s trying to make the team, so it’s all good.”
Tyler Myers skated for the first time today after missing the first two days of training camp with what Maurice described as a “minor tweak.”
“To be honest I was battling the conditioning side of it more than what I was dealing with,” he said. “It won’t take too long to get that back. In another few days I should be feeling good. … Usually later in the summer I ramp it up pretty hard to try and get as ready as I can for camp. I ended up overdoing it a little bit. It was a bit of a setback, but with the way I’m feeling now, there’s
no concern about how I’m going to feel when the season starts.”
Added Maurice: “The injury that he suffered was minor if we took care of it right away. It becomes major if you don’t. The fact that he got back on the ice and stayed through the skate is a real good sign. If he feels good again tomorrow, he’ll practice again. He’s going to be ready in about three or four days.”
Myers was acquired back on Feb. 11 as part of the blockbuster trade that sent Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres. He had three goals, 15 points, 16 penalty minutes and a
+9 rating in 24 games with the Jets, finishing with an average ice time north of 23 minutes
per game – tops on the team.
He, along with veteran forward Drew Stafford, felt right at home with their new team, playing pivotal roles en route to the playoffs. It was that experience last spring that helped Myers convince his
fellow Buffalo transplant to re-sign in Winnipeg.
“I was happy to see it,” he said, smiling. “You get those notifications (on your phone) and I saw that he signed. I texted him right away.
“It was a tough situation where we were in Buffalo. We weren’t spending a lot of time out of our defensive zone when we were traded and it’s a tough game to play. When we came to Winnipeg, at that particular time in the season, we were in a better position and you didn’t have to focus on playing defence for 25 or 28 minutes of the game. Not only for Drew and myself, I noticed that the way the guys played the game here, it allows for each guy to get a lot out of what they can
“It comes down to the players and the people on the inside. The best I can describe it is that basically a week into being with the team after the trade, it felt like we’d been around them the whole year.”
THIS ‘N THAT
Andrew Ladd was the only regular not to particular in practice today. The captain is nursing a minor injury (undisclosed), and Maurice said it was in everyone’s best interest to keep him off the ice
until he was back to being 100 percent.
-- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com