WINNIPEG - Mathieu Perreault took the next step in his recovery on Saturday, as the forward took part in the 30-minute practice the Winnipeg Jets held before flying to St. Louis.
The 31-year-old wore a non-contact gold jersey for the skate along with a tinted visor as he recovers from a concussion.
"I've seen some guys do it. One of the big things was that the light was bothering my eyes. A few days after, the sun and driving around was pretty bad," said Perreault. "The first time on the ice, the light was kind of bugging me, so I tried it on. It actually helps. I'll be wearing it for a while."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
The injury was sustained back on December 15 against the Philadelphia Flyers and was the result of a late hit from Joel Farabee.
Perreault said it was a hit he didn't see coming and left him upset for quite a while after the play.
But with that in the rear view mirror, he's happy to be back on the ice with his teammates.
"I felt really good. I'm hopeful for next practice to wear a normal jersey," said Perreault. "It felt really good today so I'm almost ready to go."
Head coach Paul Maurice said Perreault won't play in Sunday afternoon's rematch between the Jets and the St. Louis Blues, but added that the forward's participation in the practice is a step in the right direction.
"He's passed all the protocol he needs to get through - then it goes to contact," said Maurice. "We like to get him through a full skate first, just making sure all the bodies spinning around on the ice don't set him off. He felt real good at the end of it.
"He'll get another full skate in Colorado. That's when the decision will get made."
Video: PRACTICE | Mathieu Perreault
In the five games Perreault has missed, the Jets have gone 1-3-1. But Maurice felt there were positives from the 5-4 overtime loss to the Blues on Friday night - even if the final result wasn't what the Jets were looking for.
The focus of practice in preparation for the second match-up of the season with the Blues was on the forecheck.
"Our zone time was quite a bit off last night. First touches, cycles, exits by the other team, those numbers were down. That's a function of our forecheck," said Maurice.
"We were caught between two ideas. Your forecheck is situational. Sometimes you're on a line change and you get one guy in. Sometimes you have two guys arcing over with speed. We were stuck in one kind of forecheck an awful lot. We didn't like that.
"We were blending our two forecheck concepts together, which is never a good idea for us. Less is more. Simple routes. 'Run your routes' is a standard line in our room."
The Jets head coach kept the lines the same during Saturday's session:
Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit also got some valuable work in during the skate. Hellebuyck made 30 saves on 35 shots in the front half of the home-and-home set against the Blues.
While he acknowledged the first game back from the holiday break can be tough, he felt the ones that got past him were bad bounces. He also knows it was a tough night for goaltenders around the league on Friday. In seven of the 11 games that night, at least one team scored five goals. In addition, there were seven combined goals scored in seven of the 11 games as well.
"It's just getting the timing back. Those games go two ways - either you shut them out and it's a blow out, or it's a high-scoring game," said Hellebuyck. "It's the ebbs and flows of the season. I had a really good month prior, this month the bad bounces came into my game. I have to think the next month is going to be pretty fun for me."
Video: PRACTICE | Connor Hellebuyck
Hellebuyck has been rock solid for the Jets this season. That's why Maurice isn't spending too much time worrying about a bad break or two for his goaltender.
"When a goalie is really hot, he's good and there is a function of breaks. When he's really good and he's not getting breaks his numbers are kind of average," Maurice said. "Every once in a while, you throw in a tough night where he's getting tough breaks, that's more like the Detroit game.
"He had a couple he didn't like last night. That's not like him. We haven't seen those kind - getting beat clean or on bad angles very often - so we're not spending any time analyzing that."
Now the team is ready to take on the Blues for the second time in as many games - and the afternoon puck drop doesn't hurt either.
"I personally really like afternoon games. I know I'll have a little extra buzz in my game," said Hellebuyck. "I have to clean up a couple rebounds and I think things will be good."