NEWARK, New Jersey - Following last night's 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Winnipeg Jets were back on the ice Monday afternoon for a quick practice at the AmeriHealth Pavilion.
For the second straight day, Jacob Trouba, Adam Lowry, and Shawn Matthias participated in non-contact jerseys, and continue to progress toward a return from injury.
While the majority of those who played last night took part in the 25-minute session, five from Sunday's line-up did not: Mathieu Perreault, Matt Hendricks, Connor Hellebuyck, Dustin Byfuglien, and Tyler Myers.
Head coach Paul Maurice says all five players missed practice for maintenance purposes, and expects them all to be available for the second game of the six-game road trip against the New York Rangers tomorrow night.
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
Along with that bit of good news, Toby Enstrom - who has missed the last three games due to a lower-body injury - was also a full participant on Monday, and could return soon.
"We want to see how he comes off the ice, and then we want to see what 24 hours does to his injury. We just want to be sure," said Maurice.
"Toby is a really tough player. He's played with significant injuries over the past three years. He'll walk in and say he's fine. But he skated today, and he skated non-contact today. He'll get consideration."
The head coach has yet to name who will start in goal against the Rangers tomorrow, but the team has activated Steve Mason from injured reserve, and in a corresponding roster move, assigned Michael Hutchinson to the Manitoba Moose.
"I've got a plan, but there are some logistics that have to take place, and I have to talk to them before," he said. "I won't do that until we get back to the hotel."
Video: PRACTICE | Bryan Little
MATCH-UP SMASH UP
Look no further than Sunday's win over Carolina to show how the depth of the Jets can provide problems for some opponents.
The line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Connor features three of the team's top five players in points, but Maurice had them sacrificing some of that offence to contain Jordan Staal's line Sunday night.
"We needed Mark Scheifele to play against Staal. We needed a certain amount of size on that line. (Carolina's Justin) Williams isn't a big guy, but hyper competitive, and such a great stick that he plays almost like a big guy. He can control the puck like a big guy," said Maurice.
"The Staal line can change the feel and the flow of the game. Frustrate your best players, be strong down low, he's a dominant centre iceman. It's the match-up we wanted, because we weren't sure our other lines were structured to handle that size."
Video: PRACTICE | Ben Chiarot
While Staal did get on the score sheet late in the game, the real damage was done by Laine, Paul Stastny, and Nikolaj Ehlers.
The trio combined for six points in the win, and Bryan Little - whose line with Jack Roslovic and Mathieu Perreault is another dangerous unit the Jets can deploy - says that depth is important as the regular season winds down.
"That's the sign of a good team when you can spread guys out and interchange guys and still have four lines that you can put on the ice to do a job. Right now we have that confidence," said Little.
"There's advantages and disadvantages to playing against the other team's top lines. Sometimes that creates more offence. The other team might be cheating or looking for the easy out or offensive play, and that's when you catch them. Right now we're at a point that we can put any line out there, and we're confident."
Video: PRACTICE | Steve Mason
While Little hasn't noticed teams matching against the Jets any differently on home ice or on the road, he likes how his line has continued to improve as they spend more time together.
"It's just getting to know each other as a line and getting that chemistry," said Little. "We've played a lot better the last couple games. We're getting chances. I think it's just a matter of time before we start chipping in a bit offensively."
For the second time in his career, Patrik Laine has been recognized as one of the NHL's Three Stars of the Week.
His four goals and seven points in three games earned him the Second Star honours for the week ending Mar. 4.
"His five-on-five play, and Nik Ehlers included, prior to Paul (Stastny) showing up and since Paul has been here, has been really good," said Maurice. "It looks like he's gotten himself to another level. We see it on the score sheet, but when you're watching the simple things - running routes, finishing plays, being hard on pucks, and making clean outs - he's been really improved in that area as well."
With Laine's selection, Jets players have been named to the NHL Three Stars of the Week list a total of six times this season. Connor Hellebuyck, Blake Wheeler, and Nikolaj Ehlers have been named First Stars, Laine and Hellebuyck Second Stars, and Mark Scheifele was rewarded Third Star honours on Feb. 18.