WINNIPEG - The signs were all there that it would be a special teams extravaganza before the Winnipeg Jets played their first preseason game Monday against the Minnesota Wild at Bell MTS Place.
On Sunday, the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights opened their NHL preseason with a combined 17 power plays.
Seventeen turned out to be the magic number as well in a 3-2 shootout loss for the Jets, who went 2-for-10 with the man advantage.
"Thirty-three minutes of 5-on-5 time. We knew that going in," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "It was true to form of all the other games; really, really high penalty totals."
Expected or not, it makes it tough on a player like forward Kyle Connor who's trying to prove he's an everyday Top 9 guy in the NHL. Connor finished with just over eight-and-a-half minutes of ice time with some penalty killing time included towards the end of the game.
"It seemed like every time I was up, something happened," Connor said. "I was just trying to get into the flow. I think right now in the preseason they're trying to lay down the law with the slashing penalties, maybe a little more than the regular season. It's a little tough to get into the flow that way."
"That's the unfortunate part of it," added Maurice, "because he's on a line with two penalty killers (Adam Lowry and Joel Armia) and when you're penalty killing as much as they do…
"So it's tough for him to show well, but a lot of those guys are coming in and they're not getting 20 minutes. He had a bunch of really good shifts toward the end of the game, so he did a good job hanging in there and skating well."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
One of the Jets' younger forwards didn't seem to mind all the special teams play that was on display. Brendan Lemieux ended up with a productive evening with three shots, five hits and a fight with Marcus Foligno in the third period.
"(Maurice) used us (linemates Michael Sgarbossa and Marko Dano) quite a bit," Lemieux said. "We were out there playing PK. I was happy with my ice time and the way we were utilized. Obviously there were a lot of penalties but that's kind of the new game. As a young player you want to get out on the ice and be able to feel comfortable to show what you can do and be a part of special teams is really important."
Maurice was happy with Lemieux's productivity in his limited minutes.
"He looked like he had his skating legs. He was under control, he played fast, and he was under control in his routes. He was pretty sharp there; good, physical guy, a couple pucks to the net. I liked his game."