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Jets hit the ice for quick practice ahead of back-to-back this weekend

Winnipeg will close season series with the Flyers on Saturday, Hellebuyck will start

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

PHILADELPHIA - It was quick, it was efficient, and Friday's skate at the University of Pennsylvania is exactly what the Winnipeg Jets needed ahead of back-to-back matinee affairs this weekend.

"Three drills as sharp as we could," said head coach Paul Maurice. "We probably won't skate as a group on an off day until March."

That is the byproduct of a schedule that sees the Jets play five games in eight days to close out February.

But even after a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, Maurice wanted to get his team on the ice.

"It was a hectic game, if that's the right word, last night. There wasn't a lot settled down for either team," he said. "The puck was changing directions. We wanted to get the puck on their stick a little bit (today)."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

The Jets skated for about 20 minutes at the Class of 1923 Arena in Philadelphia, as they prepare for the second stop on a four-game road trip, which comes against the Flyers on Saturday.

Winnipeg will bring a three-game win streak into that tilt, while the Flyers own one of the league's best home records at 20-5-4.

"It's a fun place to play," Beaulieu said of Wells Fargo Center. "It's always a good atmosphere. They're very passionate fans and they love their team. We like playing in those environments."

Beaulieu played 19:21 in Thursday's win. He spent the majority of that time with the newest Jet, Dylan DeMelo, as his partner.

The two also tied for the team lead with 3:18 on the penalty kill.

Of course, it was just over a year ago that Beaulieu was the new guy on the block, as he was acquired by the Jets prior to last season's trade deadline.

"I thought he played great. Pretty much what I expected, knowing him a little bit. He played real strong defensively and kept the game real simple," said Beaulieu. "It's not easy to jump into a team with different systems. I thought he picked it up real well, right away."

Video: PRACTICE | Nathan Beaulieu

That duo will be paired together again on Saturday, as the Jets will ice the same line-up as they did in Ottawa with only one exception. Connor Hellebuyck will get the start in goal after Laurent Brossoit's 29-save effort against the Senators.

The projected line-up is expected to look like this:








The three straight wins the Jets have put together have pulled them into one of the two Western Conference wildcard spots. Meanwhile, the Flyers (34-20-7) sit third in the Metropolitan Division and are coming off a 4-3 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"They've got a couple of really key guys that allow that home match-up to be dominant for them. Those young defencemen that maybe they paid for a couple years have now grown into real good puck movers and really dynamic," Maurice said. "Their goaltending is probably the biggest shift for that hockey team over the last couple of years. They have lots of confidence. They've moved into the top eight in some people's minds in the league."

Video: PRACTICE | Patrik Laine

Puck drop is set for 12 pm CT, after which the Jets will fly to Buffalo for another afternoon affair against the Buffalo Sabres.

"I was never really a fan of afternoon games, but I think our record has been pretty good this year," said Beaulieu. "It'll be nice to get two quick ones, then get a day off in DC. Rest is really important this time of year. Any time we can get a down day, it's always important."

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