NEWARK, New Jersey -- Tomorrow afternoon in Brooklyn, the Winnipeg Jets have a chance to do something they haven’t done since relocating to the Manitoba capital in 2011: Win three straight to start the season.
They’ve been close. The Jets also started 2-0-0 in 2013-2014, but dropped a 3-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks in the third game of that season.
Standing between the Jets and that third straight victory is the New York Islanders, whose record sits at 0-1-1, both losses coming at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We know they’re good,” Scheifele said. “We know they have a lot of skill, they have speed, they have some depth, they have good blue liners, they just about have it all. It’s going to be a good game, but we’ll be ready for it. We know what we have to do. We just have to focus on our team game and go from there."
Adding to the storyline is the fact the Jets will be the second team to play in the Islanders’ new home, the Barclays Center. Prior to coming to the Jets in February, Drew Stafford had spent his entire career in the Eastern Conference, and played many times in the old Nassau Coliseum.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of facilities they have there. I know they’re trying to adjust to the hockey set up a little bit,” said Stafford, who has a goal and an assist so far this season. “But it’s kind of like the old (Madison Square Garden). They had to go through an adjustment period there for the hockey rink as far as the benches.
“So they had their upgrades and renovations. It’s great now but at first, it was more of an entertainment facility and basketball facility… From what I heard, it’s a new facility and I’m looking forward to checking it out.”
The nine goals the Jets have scored in their two wins have been spread out through the four lines. With that type of success, Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice kept them together during Sunday’s skate at AmeriHealth Pavilion in Newark, NJ.
Ladd – Little – Wheeler
Perreault – Scheifele – Ehlers
Burmistrov – Lowry – Stafford
Thorburn – Copp – Petan
Chiarot – Byfuglien
Enstrom – Myers
Stuart – Trouba
“I think we’re just trying to work on some of our defensive zone, our transition, making sure we’re staying quick and staying on the puck,” said Stafford, on what has stood out to him so far this season. “In the two games we’ve played so far, when we’ve gotten in on the other team’s defencemen, and sustained that pressure, and had aggressive D on our end as well, we’ve had a little bit more success.”
Four of the six defencemen that played in the two wins have registered at least a point. The power play has also contributed, going one for four against New Jersey.
“We’ve had some good looks,” said Mathieu Perreault, who assisted on that power play goal. “We’re creating chances. That’s what we want. On the power play, the last thing you want to do is decrease your momentum. You want to get out there and get chances. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
While all the sticks seem to be hot in the Jets dressing room, it appears those of Blake Wheeler and Scheifele have a little extra fuel. Scheifele has scored the Jets first goal in each game, with Wheeler cashing in shortly after on both occasions.
“I think spending a year with Blake Wheeler really helped (Scheifele), because Blake plays at such a high tempo and a high pace. Just call it turning pro. All parts of his game have gotten faster,” said Maurice. “Younger players will come up and plant their feet more. Some of it is that they’re smart and they’re trying to make the right read, and it takes them a while to make the right read.
“You look at Blake Wheeler’s game, there’s none in his game. He’s in the right spot, waiting, and then it’s just full sprints, and he’s off the ice.”
Game time on Canada’s Thanksgiving Monday is noon CT.
-Defenceman Tyler Myers left Sunday’s practice early, but Maurice isn’t concerned about the 25-year-old’s availability for Monday.
“He’ll be fine. It happens a lot over the course of the year. Some guy’s bodies, they just don’t get warmed up to the point,” he said. “We want to make sure those guys don’t stay or try to fight through something that’s not loosening up. So we have the full expectation he’ll play tomorrow.”
-After splitting the goaltending duties between Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson in the first set of back-to-back games, Maurice is still deciding how he wants to approach this second set against the Islanders and New York Rangers.
“We were splitting the first for sure,” said Maurice. “Very likely is probably the way I’ve got it. But the door isn’t completely closed now on anybody going back-to-back now too.”
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com