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No Excuses

Jets hold practice before embarking on three-game road trip

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

One day after giving up seven goals for the first time this season, the Winnipeg Jets were back on the ice for practice at MTS Centre.

While time had passed since the 7-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the mood in the dressing room had changed as well, shifting from anger and frustration, to a desire to get back on track.

"We didn't come in in a good mood. So we have to do something today. We have to work today. We went through the things that put us in a bad mood last night," said head coach Paul Maurice. "We talked about the things we needed to do on the ice at a certain pace, a certain level we needed to get to.

"We can't fix last night, but we have an opportunity to play a lot harder tomorrow night."

The Jets spent 35 minutes working on up-tempo drills in preparation for tomorrow night's road trip opener against the Arizona Coyotes. With the trip's three games coming in a span of three and a half days, Maurice didn't put the players through a 'bag skate.' But as with all of his decisions, there was a reason for that.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

"I'm going to treat them like men," said Maurice. "Do the day right today, and make sure (you're) good tomorrow. We're not dragging into Arizona with the idea 'we would have been good but the coach bagged us into the ice yesterday.' We have every reason to be good tomorrow."

This is Bryan Little's tenth season in the NHL. He knew what to expect coming into the rink today after a result no player was proud of against Montreal.

"We're trying to win hockey games and no one is in here today satisfied or feels good about what happened last night. If anyone feels comfortable, you're playing the wrong sport," Little said. "The good teams find a way to play at a high level more often than not. We need to try and find that place."

The Coyotes (12-22-6) will be a rested group in the second meeting of the season between the two teams tomorrow night. Arizona is coming off the five-day break (which the Jets have in their schedule in late February), but Little doesn't believe they should be any quicker than the Jets when the puck drops.

Video: PRACTICE | Bryan Little

"They're going to be rested, they're going to have a lot of energy," said Little. "I expect them to come out of the gates hard. But I expect us to do the same thing. Just because they have a five-day break doesn't mean they should be better than us."

Maurice knows exactly what he'll be looking for from his team. It can all be measured within five feet.

"What happens in and around the puck in a five foot area. Do we have people there? When we have people there are they coming up with those pucks or are they coming up short with them?" Maurice said. "In the areas where the other team is right, where they have right numbers, the right bodies back, what we do with that puck? The right thing to do is to put it in behind them and go fight for it again. It's also a real hard thing to do. Easier thing to do is try to create something that's not there. Once every 20 times that works and you think that's a set play then.

"So making good decisions when you have the puck, and working your ass off when you don't."

Video: PRACTICE | Dustin Byfuglien


Ben Chiarot was the only player not on the ice for practice today, as he deals with an illness that Maurice says has been going around the room.

Patrik Laine has yet to resume skating since sustaining a concussion against Buffalo, and will not make the trip.

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