WINNIPEG - Following a season-long six-game home stand that produced four of a possible 12 points, the Winnipeg Jets are eager to get on the road to begin a three-game trek that starts in Nashville tomorrow night.
But before getting on the plane, there was work to do.
For the majority of the 45-minute practice at MTS Iceplex, the focus was on special teams - the penalty kill, specifically - which is ranked 28th in the NHL and has given up five goals in the last two games.
"That's definitely been a big part of the last couple games. We've been losing the special teams battle and it's been playing a big part of our games," said Bryan Little. "The first thing we have to do is try to stay out of the box as much as we can."
Video: PRACTICE | Bryan Little
Out of the 17 penalty minutes handed out to the Jets in Saturday's 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames, eight of them came from high-sticking infractions. Head coach Paul Maurice said those penalties, especially in the second period when the Jets were gaining momentum, were the difference in the game.
Maurice worked a number of different players into penalty killing roles throughout the skate, and Little said the message was clear.
"We're going to try and be a bit more aggressive. Once we let other teams set up it kind of gets easy for them and they move the puck around on us pretty good," said Little. "We're going to try and disrupt that as much as we can."
Three losses in a row to close the home stand dropped the Jets to 30-33-6 this season, nine points back of St. Louis for the final wildcard spot in the West.
"It's quiet coming into the building this morning, and then you have to get out and get your day's work done," said Maurice. "There's a lot of important things that are going to happen here, and first is handling that adversity in a game and in terms of where you are in your season.
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
"We've got a group of guys that are fighting to stay in the NHL, to get them out of that limbo that they feel. We've got young guys that are trying to develop games, and veteran guys that are trying to develop a hockey team. There are a lot of really important reasons why, aside from the simple fact that you are professional and you're not out of it until the end. But that's not what we're selling today. We're selling how we're going to handle each day. They did it right today."
Now the Jets hit the road for the first time since a four-game road trip in mid-February, a trip that saw the team pick up points in each game en route to a 2-0-2 record.
"It's been a tough home stand for us and hasn't gone the way we'd like," said Little. "I think we're excited to get back on the road and try and get some points."
Jacob Trouba didn't take part in the skate on Sunday. Maurice didn't have an update on the defenceman, but said he'll know more about Trouba's status tomorrow.
Video: PRACTICE | Patrik Laine