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Practice Day Notebook: A month to remember, Wheeler's line in full flight

"We stayed in the fight and showed a lot of resilience." -Maurice

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Decked out in Heritage gear, the Winnipeg Jets were back on the practice ice Monday morning for their first session in December.

The month of November was precedent setting for the franchise, with the 10 wins in the 10-3-1 record setting a new franchise best in that category.

"We stayed in the fight and showed a lot of resilience," said Mauric, adding there were themes throughout the month. 

"I think the game in Vegas, games in Florida, game in Nashville, Florida, San Jose, and Anaheim were all very similar, really well played. Those were really solid games. 

"Then we had the LA and Dallas on the road in both games, trailing, tried to fight back, lots of compete in the game. 

"The New Jersey home loss in the shootout might have been similar to the Columbus game kind of that first game back after a long trip. It wasn't easy, but we stayed in the fight.

"The things you hoped to see out of your team over the course of the month - some real good play, and we had a bunch like that. Grinders that weren't easy but we stayed in those fights. Then we had the red flag games. It was a shorter trip, so hopefully we don't have that same lag against Dallas - and we certainly can't against that team."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

Of course, there was a reason the Jets had the Heritage equipment on, as they'll wear the Heritage blue uniforms on Tuesday night to begin a home-and-home series with the Dallas Stars.

It's the first time the Jets will wear those jerseys since the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in Regina.

In two meetings with the Stars this season, both teams have come away with a victory. The Jets won on home ice in overtime on November 10, while the Stars held off a Jets comeback on November 21 at American Airlines Center.

"They've got some big, skilled players. Some smart players who are going to come with a lot of speed and shoot a lot of pucks," Ehlers said of the Stars, who are tied with the Jets in points in the standings. "For us, it's a matter of coming out hard. We want to win our games at home. We want to be dominant at home. 

"Against a team like Dallas tomorrow night, it's going to be a good challenge for us. But the way we've been playing lately, if we continue to do that it gives us a chance to win every single game, tomorrow as well."


The trio of Ehlers, Jack Roslovic, and Blake Wheeler continues to find the score sheet.

Roslovic scored his sixth of the season in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings and has a total of four goals and six points in the 11 games the line has been together.

"We've been fast. We've been playing hard. When we play hard and we're skating like we can skate, we can be one of the most dangerous lines on the ice on a consistent basis," Roslovic said, before elaborating on his growth as a player.

"Just developing and growing and becoming a complete player every day, using speed - one of my assets that when I'm skating fast and skating hard, I'm playing my best. I'm just trying to find that on a consistent basis."

Video: PRACTICE | Jack Roslovic

The line itself has combined for 10 goals and 22 points since November 8. Collectively, they have a 54.95 shot attempt percentage and has generated 60 scoring chances compared to 39 against (according to Natural Stat Trick).

"The impact Blake has had on those two guys is they're now playing the game more like Blake in terms of intensity. They're in on defensive plays, they're driving, they're battling," said Maurice. 

"They're involved the play the whole time, knocking pucks down, getting sticks in on pucks. That's the way Blake plays. Those two guys are starting to look more like him, even though they're built differently."

Ehlers leads the team in goals with 12 and is third in points with 20. While the offence is nice, he knows the line has to stay detailed in all ends of the ice to be effective, no matter how well winger-turned-centre Wheeler plays.

"We know what we want to do offensively. But when you have a winger jump in at centre, you need to be more aware defensively and help him out," said Ehlers. "Not just, as soon as we get the puck, skate out. We've done a really good job doing that since they put our line together. Now our offence is going the way we want to, but we have to keep it going."


Maurice mixed up his lines a bit in the final 40 minutes against the Kings, but went back to the ones that played the majority of the road trip together during practice on Monday.










Video: PRACTICE | Nikolaj Ehlers


Like the team, Connor Hellebuyck's month of November was a special one.

In 11 games, Hellebuyck had a 0.944 save percentage and a 1.85 goals against average, both of which led the National Hockey League.

"(He's) the rock, in a positive way, the anchor. The steadiest piece of our game over the month," said Maurice. "I'm going to include Laurent in that too. He played really solid games in his last three. He played well in LA, very well, and didn't get the win. He played very well at home the other night and lost in an eight-minute gap. Big win in Florida and played well there.

"Our goaltending is exceptionally consistent this month and the driver, which would be true of just about every team in the National Hockey League. The one requisite thing to win is your goaltending."

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