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Jets prepare for season-long six-game home stand

Brossoit will get the start in goal against Ottawa on Saturday

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Laurent Brossoit will get the start in goal for the Winnipeg Jets as they open a six-game home stand on Saturday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators.

Brossoit's last start came in the first game after the NHL All-Star break, when the 26-year-old made 23 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Despite the final result, Jets head coach Paul Maurice feels Brossoit has been a key part of the team's goaltending tandem this season.

"Laurent and Connor (Hellebuyck) since the break have been exceptionally good, and we need them to be," said Maurice, citing the team's schedule coming out of the break. "You've got four games against really strong opponents that have some good firepower up front. Your goaltender is going to have to be the difference."

Hellebuyck back stopped the Jets to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, turning away 35 of the 37 shots he faced. That gave Hellebuyck his 23rd win of the season - the fourth most in the NHL.

He's faced the most shots in the league (1,324), but he's tied with Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins for the most shutouts with four.

"He's been amazing all year. We've got great performances from LB as well," said Josh Morrissey. "The game he played against Boston, I thought he was phenomenal as well. We've had great goaltending all year and they've bailed us out when we've given up high-danger chances and things like that. 

"I can't say enough about them. We need them to be just as good going forward. We're happy to have them, as a defenceman I'm happy to play in front of those guys for sure."

Video: PRACTICE | Josh Morrissey

Saturday's tilt with the Senators (18-25-11) is the start of a home stand that sees the Jets play six teams that currently sit outside of a playoff spot.

Heading into Friday's action, the Jets are one point back of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference, so they won't be taking anyone lightly.

"We're going to come to the rink with six guys out of our line-up. That's not going to change a whole lot any time soon," said Maurice. "What we've done well is we've competed so very hard in our last four games against the very best teams. When we couldn't get the task done, our goaltender was up to it. 

"It would be foolish to think you come to any of these games thinking that because they're not in the playoffs you'll somehow have an easier night."

Winnipeg is in the middle of a stretch that sees them play nine of 10 games at home. With the lone road game in that stretch behind them, the focus turns to improving the 12-12-3 record on home ice.

"We should have a lot of confidence going into this next stretch here," said Morrissey.

"It doesn't really matter who you're playing against, whether it's the top team in the league or the teams near the bottom, you have to be ready to go. If you don't bring your best, you're not going to give yourself a chance to win. We want to keep building in our own game off the games we just played."

POOLMAN SKATES

After landing in Winnipeg shortly after 1 am CT, the Jets were quick and efficient in practice Friday.

Blake Wheeler and Dmitry Kulikov didn't participate in the skate, but Maurice said both are expected to play against the Senators.

Luca Sbisa also didn't practice after leaving Thursday's game with a lower-body injury following a block of a David Perron shot.

"We'll list him as day-to-day," said Maurice. "All the x-rays were negative. He's probably a little too sore to go tomorrow."

In other injury news, defenceman Tucker Poolman skated not once - but twice on Friday. His first skate, like many other sessions before today, came prior to the Jets hitting the ice for the official team practice.

Poolman, 26, hasn't played since suffering a lower-body injury against the Nashville Predators on January 12. He wore a non-contact jersey (as did Bryan Little) for Friday's 25-minute skate.

Maurice said if all goes well, Poolman could return to the line-up in three or four days.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

RETIRING ROY

The Jets American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, will retire Jimmy Roy's number 21 at Bell MTS Place on Friday night.

Roy, currently the Jets Director of Player Development, played nine seasons in Moose colours between 1997 and 2006. He won the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as the AHL's Best in Community in the 2002-03 campaign, then was named to the AHL All-Star Game in the 2005-06 season.

Maurice said the honour is fitting for someone like Roy, who has brought a lot to the organization in player development.

"Jimmy is a worker. He's a connecter," said Maurice. 

"That's what we have with him now. In our group, he's connected to all those guys. They don't hear from him once every three months, he's constantly making that connection with those players.

"I wasn't here, but when he first got here it was 'here you've got the player development job, build it.' So this program that he and Mike Keane run, they've designed and developed in terms of outreach to players. They're constantly looking to improve it.

"All the guys love him and he works his butt off every day."

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