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Jets open 2017 with upbeat practice in Tampa

Team begins new year with back-to-back set in Florida

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

BRANDON, FL -The changing of the calendar to 2017 offered a chance for the Winnipeg Jets to move on from a 6-2 New Year's Eve loss to the New York Islanders at MTS Centre.

The team spent New Year's Day on a flight to Tampa Bay, and seemed to be in good spirits during today's 45-minute practice.

"We've put those games behind us now. We've traveled, we've had New Year's. We got to get together, all the boys," said Mathieu Perreault. "What happened, we've put behind us, and we're focusing on these next two games. The mood is fine here in the room."

Perhaps the best evidence of that good mood came after the formal part of the session ended, when the majority of the team played a game at one end of the ice with more than bragging rights on the line.

Video: PRACTICE | Mark Scheifele

"It starts off, you get two pucks and you try to score with one. If you score one, you're done and you don't lose," said Mark Scheifele. "Then it goes down to one puck. Basically the last guy to score, has to do a dare or something along those lines. That's all discussed within the team."

Luckily for Scheifele, he wasn't the last one left. Though the team's leading scorer was in it a lot longer than he anticipated.

"(The tension) was starting to build a little bit. I started to get a little more nervous," Scheifele laughed. "But there were some guys in there that I knew would outlast me, so I knew I was fine."

Next on the schedule for the Jets is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who at 19-15-4 sit fourth in the Atlantic Division.

It's the third of five straight games the Jets play against the Eastern Conference. Jets head coach Paul Maurice has said he's noticed the East is much faster this season than in previous ones, and the Lightning were one of the teams that started that trend.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

"They certainly had a real active back end, maybe more than some other teams early on in the East when the transition happened," he said. "They went to a bit more of a skill line-up, they have some physical guys for sure, but they went to that speed and skill… Ben Bishop came in, and some veteran pieces came in on the back end, and they brought some young skill up front to match."

Puck drop against the Lightning is tomorrow at 6:30 pm CT.


Tyler Myers traveled with the team from Winnipeg, and although the defenceman didn't participate in today's skate, coach Paul Maurice said Myers is progressing, and his injury is in the hands of Dr. Craig Slaunwhite, the team's Director of Fitness.

"That means he's passed through some of the physiological stuff that we do," Maurice said of Myers travelling after missing the last 23 games with a lower body injury. "That's always a good sign."

After being placed on waivers yesterday, Alexander Burmistrov was claimed by the Arizona Coyotes today. Maurice says he's happy for the forward, even if things didn't work out in Winnipeg.

"I'm happy for him… Alex and I have had a number of conversations about what he was hoping to have here. I just had other players ahead of him, and the role he was looking for wasn't here," said Maurice. "Maybe he gets the opportunity he's been looking for to play with the top end guys and get some power play minutes, things like that."

Burmistrov had two points in 23 games with the Jets this season.

Video: PRACTICE | Mathieu Perreault

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