WINNIPEG - Three practices in four days have the Winnipeg Jets longing for game day.
"I personally don't like having this many days between games," said defenceman Tyler Myers. "When you have this much time off, you want to keep that pace up. That's a big part of our identity with this team. We like to play fast. I think we've been doing a pretty good job of it. We have to make sure with these practice days to keep that pace up."
Even head coach Paul Maurice, who loves to get his team on the ice for practices like today's 45-minute session, would like to see one of the team's seven games over the next 12 days sprinkled into this six-day stretch.
"You're going to get some rest, not so much that they were fatigued, but any one that's got a minor injury, we were able to work on that for the week and get guys pretty healthy," said Maurice. "Our schedule is fair now - so much better than it was last year. We have a real tough stretch, and it starts this week…. Getting rested and getting healthy now is important."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
The overall health in the Jets dressing room continues to improve. Matt Hendricks was a participant in regular line rushes today, between Nic Petan and Brendan Lemieux.
Myers, who missed practice Saturday (maintenance) and Monday (personal appointment) was also back on the ice, paired with Dmitry Kulikov.
"What I had going on was really minor," said Myers, referring to missing practice for maintenance. "If we were playing that night I would have jumped in."
The full line rushes on Tuesday looked like this:
Lemieux/Petan - Hendricks - Armia
Only Mathieu Perreault (injured reserve) and Adam Lowry (upper-body) weren't with the main group of skaters. For the second straight day, Lowry skated with Director of Fitness Dr. Craig Slaunwhite prior to the team taking to the ice.
Video: PRACTICE | Tyler Myers
Maurice lists the forward as "not probable" for Thursday's match-up against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but said the forward would travel with the team.
Thursday's game will be the first of three games in four nights for the Jets, and Maurice says the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions could be the best possible opponent for a team coming off a break like the Jets are.
"You play the Stanley Cup champions, you're going to be buzzing, because you know they'll make you look bad if you're not," said Maurice, who added Connor Hellebuyck will start in goal against the Penguins. "It's probably good that we're going in there at this time. We're rested. Fear is a great motivator. You have to be on your game against those elite teams, and that usually gets you skating, which is what we need to do."
Video: PRACTICE | Mark Scheifele
Before getting to game action though, the Jets have one more day of practice Wednesday at Bell MTS Iceplex, after which they'll travel to Pittsburgh to prepare for game day.
"It's definitely different, but we've been having some good practices and doing some things that are going to help our game," said Mark Scheifele. "You focus on some more team-oriented things early, and as the practices progress, you try to get a little more speed into your practice and a little more battle.
"We've all taken this rest as a weapon here. The biggest thing for us is making sure we're taking care of our bodies. We have a bunch of tough games coming up, and we have to be ready for them."