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Practice Day Notebook: Apr. 4, 2021

Preparing for the Senators, Maurice weighs possible line-up adjustments

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Tomorrow's tilt with the Ottawa Senators could bring about a reunion with an old friend.

Goaltender Anton Forsberg - who the Jets claimed off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 15, only to lose him on waivers to Ottawa just two months later - could very well be the man tasked with backstopping his old team against his new one.

"He's a super nice guy, for sure," said Jets defenceman Logan Stanley. A really hard worker and definitely glad to see him having success with Ottawa. It was nice to see him get a win last night."

Forsberg made 35 saves as the Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, and now Ottawa comes into Winnipeg with a 3-1-1 record in their last five games.

"They were just better than anybody gave them credit for at the start, and maybe that still happens. I don't think we ever looked at them as that," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "You watch them play and almost listen to how they're viewed, they've got some good young talent and they maybe pat them on the heads and say they'll be good someday. 

"Anybody that works that hard, that's got skill, that's got good veterans, that's got good goaltending, they can beat you on any night."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice 

The Jets have a 4-1-0 record against the Senators this season, which includes a three-game sweep of Ottawa in January.

Adam Lowry was a big part of that sweep, he scored in each of the first two games and added an assist in the third.

The more video he watches of the Senators, though, the more Lowry believes this Ottawa team will be quite different than the one the Jets saw in February.

"They seem to kind of continually get better. Just watching them on TV, they beat the Canadiens last night. They seem to have just been really building this year," said Lowry. "Their young guys are starting to play with a lot more confidence. They're starting to contribute. You're starting to see some growth from those guys. We expect one of those games where there's going to be a lot of speed up front and they're playing loose, they're playing not worried about making mistakes."

In preparation for Monday's tilt, the Jets held practice on Sunday at Bell MTS Place.

Video: PRACTICE | Logan Stanley

Maurice said following Friday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs that the practice wouldn't be optional, but if any players had any sort of nagging injury, they'd be kept off the ice.

Every Jets player was deemed healthy enough to practice, though. The 35-minute session saw the team use the same line rushes as they've had the last three games.

Connor-Scheifele-Ehlers

Stastny-Dubois-Wheeler

Copp-Lowry-Appleton

Perreault-Thompson-Lewis

Morrissey-Poolman

Forbort-Pionk

Stanley-DeMelo

It's a look the Jets head coach plans to start the game with on Monday.

"There's a bunch of things that we want to learn by the end of the year, you are going to see these lines change," said Maurice. "But there was enough good in those two games that I'm doing it in today's practice and to start the game. In truth, if I got that feeling on the bench by the matchup with Ottawa, I have no problem changing that after the first or second period and that next game."

While Maurice perhaps still has some ideas on how he wants to configure his lines, he's hesitant to change much with Lowry's trio or Nate Thompson's.

Video: PRACTICE | Nate Thompson

Lowry's line outscored the highly skilled Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Zach Hyman line on Friday night by a score of 1-0. Meanwhile, Thompson's group - which has been together every game since Feb. 19 - also plays a big role. Look no further than a shift on Friday that started in the defensive zone and ended up with a minute of sustained offensive zone time.

"I think it was against (John) Tavares' line too, so when you can do it against one of their top liens and hem them in their D-zone, it only stems well for the rest of our team," said Thompson. "Whenever we get a shift like that, I feel like it helps our team and builds some momentum."

Shifts like that, along with the fact that all three of Thompson, Lewis, and Perreault play special teams, makes that group incredibly valuable.

"You see them taking a lot of D zone draws for us to kind of change the flow of the game," said Lowry. "To see them contributing 5-on-5 is huge for us. If you want to do well and you want to have a successful team, you need contributions from all four lines."

ICE CHIPS

Monday's game against the Senators was originally scheduled for May 7, but the National Hockey League moved that game to Apr. 5 as a result of the growing number of Vancouver Canucks players and staff on the Covid Protocol List.

Video: PRACTICE | Adam Lowry

The Jets were supposed to finish a four-game home stand with a two-game set against the Canucks on Apr. 4 and 6, but those games have been postponed.

Clearly, hockey takes a back seat to the health and safety of all the players, staff, and their families in Vancouver at this time.

Adam Lowry said he's reached out to former teammate Tyler Myers, who is one of the 14 players on that list as of Apr. 3.

"I just check and see how he is and see how some of those guys were doing and I think it's one of those things, you play with a guy for a while, you become good friends and you're obviously concerned with their health and safety," said Lowry. "Just checking in to make sure they were doing all right. I've talked to him a little bit, sent him the best, sending all the guys on the Canucks our best."

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