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Perreault nearing a return as Jets prepare for Coyotes

29-year-old full participant in practice; likely out vs Arizona

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - He likely won't play tomorrow in the rematch with the Arizona Coyotes, but Mathieu Perreault is inching his way to a return.

When he does come back, he'll be making a modification to his equipment.

"I'll definitely be wearing the padding on my skates," said Perreault, who has missed 11 games with a lower-body injury. "It's one of those that you feel like you probably should have worn them before the injury happens. But sometimes you need this to happen to figure it out."

Today's practice at Bell MTS Place was the 29-year-old's third practice as a full participant, but head coach Paul Maurice doesn't want to rush the forward back in to the line-up.

Video: PRACTICE | Mathieu Perreault

Also on the injury front, Tyler Myers got through today's practice as if his injury scare on Saturday night in Arizona didn't even happen.

Myers had his leg twisted with Coyotes forward Christian Dvorak in the third period, and had to be helped off the ice, but returned to the bench a few minutes later. He was on the ice with his teammates after the final buzzer to celebrate goaltender Steve Mason's first win in Jets colours as well.

"We would have been real cautious with it, and we were. But he felt strong today and got through practice with no issues," said Maurice. "So he's going to be fine. It was scary, but we're fortunate."

Tomorrow's game against the Arizona Coyotes kicks off a three-game home stand for the Jets, who picked up four of a possible six points on last week's road trip.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

Maurice believes his team handled the emotional highs and lows of the trip well, especially rebounding after the 5-2 loss in Las Vegas.

"That second half of the second period (in Vegas) we didn't like very much at all," said Maurice. "But (we) transitioned to real grinding, hard game on back-to-back nights, and didn't change much down 1-0, which is a sign of growth in our team. Pretty patient with that game, and got stronger as the game went, and got some pretty good goaltending in that game too."

Speaking of goaltending, Maurice announced that Connor Hellebuyck will start in goal tomorrow against Arizona. However, with 16 games in 27 days starting Tuesday, and Mason's strong play in his last two outings (stopping 64 of 67 shots), Maurice knows he can lean on either goaltender.

"We're coming into a part of the season where you're going to see more frequency come in for whoever is riding in that back-up role," said Maurice. "(Mason's) last two were very good. So the door then is open for us to get him back in earlier. Long term, there is a block in March that's tough, but this is our toughest month right here."

Video: PRACTICE | Adam Lowry

ICE CHIPS

With Dale Hawerchuk's number 10 going into the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony tomorrow night, Mark Scheifele was feeling nostalgic about his former coach with the OHL's Barrie Colts.

"He shaped my game to where it is," said Scheifele, who notched his 100th career NHL goal in the win over Arizona. "He was a big part of my junior days and teaching me how to learn the game and think about the game differently."

Scheifele said after he was drafted by Winnipeg in 2011, Hawerchuk told him some stories about the city, and what it was like to play there.

"He had a house here until probably five or six years ago," said Scheifele. "It was definitely a big part of his life. There will always be a soft spot in his heart for Winnipeg."

Video: PRACTICE | Mark Scheifele

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With Perreault nearing a return to action, the Jets assigned Brendan Lemieux to the Manitoba Moose this morning.

The 21-year-old appeared in the first seven games of his NHL career since his recall on Oct. 17, and scored his first NHL goal in a 7-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Maurice says the re-assignment is all about getting Lemieux back playing, after the winger wasn't in the line-up for any of the three games on the road trip.

"He worked hard in the summer and that was probably the most important thing that happened to him. He got faster," said Maurice. "(There are) lots of good things there. All the standard young player things he can get better at. He can get better at running the routes. The game happens quite a bit faster here, so learning to pick up those reads.

"Energy, he gets in and gets on it. Physical, not afraid of working in the dark areas there, but also a set a hands that I think you'll see more and more as he develops."

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