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Jets work on getting speed back in their game after loss to Columbus

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Head coach Paul Maurice said his team wasn't quick enough in last night's loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He made sure they were quick at practice today.

"The practice today was simple. There weren't a whole lot of reads in it. Make your read as fast as you can, and then go," said Maurice.

"In a straight away foot race, there wouldn't be a whole lot of guys catching some of our guys, or any team. Every team has three or four guys that can really go… A lot of it is just habit. It's getting out there, run your routes. There was a lot of sprint work in practice today with pucks.

"We're doing one thing here. Do it as fast as you possibly can."

Video: PRACTICE | Bryan Little

The Winnipeg Jets skated for one hour at Bell MTS Iceplex today. Dustin Byfuglien was not on the ice, Maurice indicated the defenceman's "picked up something" in the game last night, unrelated to the injury that kept him out of two games last week.

With Byfuglien off the ice, Ben Chiarot was paired with Toby Enstrom, with the rest of the line rushes looking like this:








Maurice said he'll focus on Friday's line-up a bit more on Thursday's practice, but isn't hopeful that any injured players will return against the Minnesota Wild.

"We've got some of these guys that are closer to coming back, but I don't have the answer on if they're going to be available or not," said Maurice. "I expect a big chunk of those guys to be available for Pittsburgh (next Thursday). I just don't know if they're going to be available for Minnesota."

Video: PRACTICE | Ben Chiarot

Regardless of who is in the line-up, Bryan Little knows the team has to be better. He believes the challenge is in playing a full 60 minutes, something he knows the team is capable of.

"It's not an easy thing to do, but good teams do it, and we're still trying to find a way," said Little, who played 17:38 last night. "It wasn't a good game for our team. (Steve Mason) had three or four highlight reel saves. It's tough. You don't play a good game, and you kind of hang your goalie out to dry a bit like that. We didn't do him any favours.

"Next time he's in net for us, I think we owe him a bit."

Mason made 34 saves in last night's loss, and if he had it his way, he'd be back between the pipes tonight to try and move forward from the game.

However the Jets schedule doesn't work in Mason's favour. With only one game between today and next Thursday, and Connor Hellebuyck scheduled to start in that one game, the 29-year-old netminder will have to wait a bit longer.

But Maurice's confidence hasn't waivered.

Video: PRACTICE | Steve Mason

"I really like the way he comes back to the rink the next day. He's not dragging his lip. He gets into that practice and he goes after it, and he works hard at it," said Maurice.

"That's a good pro, and it's a good example for all the guys around you. If you have a night you don't like, you have to come get it out of you at practice the next day."


Matt Hendricks (lower-body) met with team doctors last night, and looks to be getting closer to a return. The veteran forward has missed all six games so far, and has been wearing a bright yellow non-contact jersey in practice.

"I don't think I've got him for Minnesota," said Maurice. "But he'll get rid of that ugly sweater pretty soon."

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