WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets (26-31-4) begin a five-game home stand tonight when they take on the Florida Panthers. It’s also the beginning of a month that sees the Jets play 16 games in 30 days.
But despite that schedule, Jacob Trouba says the team can only focus on getting this home stand off to the right start.
“We want to get on a run here and get comfortable playing in this building as quick as we can. We’ve had some stretches on the road, it will be nice to get home and play in front of our crowd in our building,” he said. “We’ve got to get comfortable, find that energy before the game in this room to bring out on the ice.”
The Panthers (35-19-8) beat the Jets 3-1 on Feb. 20, with 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr scoring twice. The second of those moved him into third-place on the NHL’s all-time goals list.
“It’s pretty awesome to see a guy like that and the work ethic he has. You hear the stories about him being out there late at night working on his game. It’s definitely very honourable to see a guy his age with his resume still working on his game,” said forward Mark Scheifele, who remembers Jagr highlights from his childhood. “That just shows the younger guys that you can never stop learning, you can never stop working on your game. I definitely look at that as a pretty awesome thing.”
Awesome as it may be, the Jets are tasked with slowing down Jagr, who leads the Panthers in points with 45.
“He hasn’t missed a beat. He’s so strong on the puck. His patience out there is really amazing,” said defenceman Paul Postma. “You just have to be aware of when he’s on the ice, and take away his time and space. Try not to get looking at the puck too much and try to take the body as much as you can.”
But it’s not only Jagr the Jets will keep an eye on. Florida acquired Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell prior to yesterday’s 2 pm CT trade deadline to help them stay atop the Atlantic Division standings, and push toward the playoffs. The two new acquisitions will make their Panthers debut tonight.
“Whenever you put some guys like that into the line-up, they walk in the room and play their first game, there’s a buzz,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “Everybody wants to show what they can do. So they’ll be rolling here tonight to show off to each other. They’ve got a really good structure in the game that they play. The guys they brought in will pick up on that very quickly, so I don’t think they’ll have much trouble fitting these guys in.”
Speaking of fitting in, Jets forward Marko Dano seems to be doing just that as he prepares to make his MTS Centre debut tonight. Dano played just over 14 minutes against Pittsburgh, his first game as a Jet.
Maurice said considering the circumstances, the 21-year-old forward played well that afternoon.
“He had been on a bus for eight hours with his last team, and the flights and everything, I thought he played a really smart game. He didn’t try to do too much, but was effective in the position we put him in,” said Maurice. “He’s got a practice in now, so we’d like to see a little bit more comfort out there.”
Puck drop is set for 7 pm CT.
Mathieu Perreault did not take the morning skate, but was at MTS Centre this morning. Perreault had a long day at the hospital yesterday, but it was for a good reason.
“He’s a father, which is wonderful,” said Maurice. “It was a full day yesterday. It started very early and ended very late. He came in this morning but we made him go home and get some sleep. Everybody is healthy everybody is good.”
Maurice said Perreault is expected to be in the line-up tonight.