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Jets get 'back to fast' in preparation for Flyers

"At this time of year, it's as much mental as it is physical." - Maurice

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - The bounces certainly didn't go in favour of the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, so the focus in practice on Saturday is bouncing back against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

"We got back to fast today. I liked - more importantly - they were mentally trying to do what they needed to do even if they couldn't execute it," said head coach Paul Maurice. "At this time of year, it's as much mental as it is physical. Our schedule is kinder to us, not in terms of competition, but in terms of being at home."

After Friday's day away from the rink, the Jets skated for 45 minutes at Bell MTS Place with only Blake Wheeler absent from the session.

Maurice said it was just maintenance for the Jets captain and that Wheeler will play against the Flyers to begin a three-game home stand.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

Winnipeg is 10-2-0 this season in the game following a loss of any kind.

"We lost a big two points there, but we turn the page and focus on the next two points we can get," said Gabriel Bourque.

"We just enjoy every game and the chance we have to win it. The guys want to win every game, so every time we lose we're frustrated a bit. But we turn the page and work toward the next game."

Bourque has played in two games since returning from a lower-body injury that kept him out from November 8 - December 8, a span of 14 games.

In his two games since returning, he's played with Nick Shore in the middle and Logan Shaw on the opposite wing.

"It's fun. We talk a lot on the ice and it makes my job way easier," said Bourque. "It's going to get better the more games we have together, but I think so far we've done a good job."

Video: PRACTICE | Mathieu Perreault

That trio was together again during practice Saturday, with Joona Luoto skating in Wheeler's place during line rushes:

Connor-Scheifele-Laine

Ehlers-Luoto (Wheeler)-Roslovic

Copp-Lowry-Perreault

Bourque-Shore-Shaw

Morrissey-Poolman

Sbisa-Pionk

Bitetto-Beaulieu

Dahlstrom

Philadelphia (17-9-5) plays in Minnesota against the Wild Saturday night before coming into Winnipeg for a 4 pm CT puck drop.

The Flyers are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games heading into the weekend. Regardless of the back-to-back situation, Mathieu Perreault expects to see the best of the Flyers on Sunday.

"Over the years I don't think that really changes a whole lot. They're going to come in tomorrow and everybody is in good shape in this league," said Perreault. "We're expecting them to come out and be really good."

Philadelphia will be without leading scorer Travis Konecny due to a concussion and also announced on Friday the unfortunate news that Oskar Lindblom - who leads the team in goals with 11 - is out indefinitely as he is treated for Ewing's sarcoma.

Video: PRACTICE | Gabriel Bourque

Even with those players out, Maurice says the Flyers are a dangerous team.

"The changes would be a bit of maturation in the net - they're getting better goaltending. Their back end is as active in the offensive zone now as anybody's," said Maurice. "They have a dynamic back end and then some really skilled and mature forward group that can make plays. 

"The overall package, I think Philadelphia plays a much faster game as a group than they were in years past."

They'll certainly pose a challenge for the Jets, who are 6-1-1 in their last eight games on home ice heading into a three-game home stand.

"We're going to be playing some really good teams. We've got Philly coming in and they've been playing really well," said Perreault. "This is going to be a great challenge. We'll take it one game at a time but we'll have to stay sharp. We have some big games coming up."

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