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Jets open home-and-home series in Dallas

Maurice tweaks line-up ahead of road match-up with injury-depleted Stars

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

With the festivities of the Heritage Classic behind them, the Winnipeg Jets (2-3-0) focus is on this week's home-and-home series with the Dallas Stars, which gets underway tonight in Texas.

"The Heritage Classic was a great experience. Everyone had a lot of fun and a lot of us had family and friends in town," said Shawn Matthias.

"That was great, but that's over now. So now it's back to work again tonight and we need the two points."

Video: PREGAME | Shawn Matthias

Like the Jets, the Stars (2-2-1) are coming off a shutout loss (3-0 to Columbus) in their last outing. Injuries have taken their toll on the Dallas forwards. Patrick Sharp, Cody Eakin, Mattias Janmark, Jiri Hudler, and Ales Hemsky will all miss tonight's game with various ailments. Patrick Eaves is probable after taking part in the morning skate, while Jason Spezza will be a game-time decision.

Head coach Paul Maurice says the Dallas line-up has little do with his team's preparation for tonight.

"It might change certain match ups that you have to look up. You've got (Jamie) Benn and (Tyler) Seguin as of right now split up, so that changes maybe our prep and how we're thinking about match ups and those things," said Maurice. "But we're on the road, so that won't be the first order of business."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

While the Stars have been forced to make line-up changes, the Jets will make some of their own tonight.

Maurice will keep rookie Kyle Connor out of the line-up tonight, but insists he's liked what he's seen from the 19-year-old defensively. He believes Connor can learn a lot about where to use his dynamic offensive capabilities that made him so successful in the NCAA, against NHL opponents.

"They're used to a higher rate of creation of offence from where they came, because they were able to. It's a completely different style of game than they're used to playing," Maurice said. "You saw with Patrik (Laine) as well, places where you used to try guys one-on-one, you can't get away with that in the NHL, so you have to be more selective of where you're trying to create your offence."

Video: PREGAME | Chris Thorburn

With Connor out, Chris Thorburn draws back in for his second game of the season. Mark Stuart also skated alongside Ben Chiarot, and also looks to return to game action.

Winnipeg is scheduled to play against Central Division opponents in three of their next four games. Not only is tonight a chance to bounce back from Sunday's loss to Edmonton, but a chance to even up the team's record against division foes. Currently the Jets are 0-1-0 against the Central, and want to improve on last season's 11-16-2 mark within the division.

"The mood in this room is good. We're all still confident. We feel good. We've been practicing hard," said Matthias. "I would expect a really good Winnipeg Jets team tonight."

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