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Jets get good news after All-Star break

Perreault could return on three-game road trip

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

It was back to work for the Winnipeg Jets today at MTS Iceplex following the three-day break during the All-Star festivities in Los Angeles.

Patrik Laine, who took part in those festivities, was not on the ice - he'll meet the team in St. Louis. But the story was who did take part in practice: Mathieu Perreault.

Perreault had not played since taking a Corey Perry slash in the 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Jan. 23.

"We were just talking about the fact that I was healthy again, and playing well, then this happens," said Perreault following the 35-minute skate. "That's the kind of luck I'm going through right now. Obviously now I'm happy on the ice that fast. Hopefully I can come back soon and be a player again."

Video: PRACTICE | Mathieu Perreault

The 29-year-old has missed a total of 16 games this season, but did travel to St. Louis as the Jets embark on a three-game trip against Central Division teams this week.

"I'm hopeful somewhere on this trip he'll be back in the line-up," said head coach Paul Maurice. "I'm cautious about that. He was far better today than I thought he would be."

Drew Stafford will also make the trip. He's been out with a lower body injury sustained in the win over St. Louis on Jan. 21.

Add up the man games lost to this point, and the Jets are at a whopping 208 with 30 games to go in the regular season.

"The story so far this year has been resilience. With the stretch they had with the schedule, the injuries have taken a major toll, but they stay in the fight," Maurice said. "I know there's a lot of that in our room - really good leadership. I like to think we're getting healthy at some point."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

With that resilience has come opportunity, and look no further than Andrew Copp. The 22-year-old started the season at centre, but with the injuries up front, he's moved to the wing alongside Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.

Since then, he's scored four goals in his last five games, including the tally that tied the Jets with Chicago late in the third period last Thursday.

"I have a lot of confidence right now playing with two guys that can create a lot of plays for me," said Copp. "I like where I'm at, and I feel like I've always had this. But you have to keep building, you're never good enough, so you have to keep trying to get better."

Video: PRACTICE | Andrew Copp

That was the goal all along, even if the decision to start Copp in the American Hockey League this season was a tough decision for Maurice.

"I don't think he was very happy about it, but he probably looks back at it now and understands it - touch the puck more, play with the puck a little bit more," Maurice said, adding that if the lines were to stay the same, he'd like to experiment a bit with Copp's spot on the wing.

"I'd love to be able to look at platooning that left wing spot a little bit and moving the guys around so that Perreault could play there as well. Stafford can play his off side, and then keep Copp's confidence.

"It's his job as long as he wants it - but nobody stays in one spot. As long as he's producing and that line is playing the way they are, he can play there. He's a big strong kid, he handles the minutes well."

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Maurice had more updates on the injury front, as Marko Dano (lower body) and Ben Chiarot (upper body) both skated today. Neither player travelled with the team, as Maurice didn't expect them to be able to play on the trip.

But when the team gets back, Maurice is hopeful Tyler Myers can join them on the ice.

"We're hoping that when we get back, he'll get back on the ice," Maurice said. "I can't tell you what it'll look like, whether it's in a practice or if he's out skating on his own. But that's what we're shooting for."

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