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Practice Day Notebook: Break-outs, power play, and divisional opponents

Jets practice for 30 minutes before flying to Chicago

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - A quick 30-minute practice was all the Winnipeg Jets needed on Friday before they headed to a snowy airport to head to Chicago.

Every player that had a piece of the 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday was on the ice for practice, including Bryan Little, who remains in a non-contact jersey.

The Jets liked a lot of what they did in last night's win, which improved their record to 3-2-0 on the season.

"The crowd was great from the start. It was a blast playing in a home opener like this," said Mason Appleton. "We were pretty resilient and found a way to get the win."

Still, there are areas they'd like to improve.

One area head coach Paul Maurice referenced was the breakout, where he felt his team had trouble against a high-pressure forecheck.

"What's great about that is when you get good at it, you get to keep it. If you can break the puck out under high pressure, all the elements that go into that really help your game all over the ice," said Maurice.

"You're a little quicker, you move the puck a little faster, passes are a little sharper, you have to be on the right side of it, you can't cheat north of the puck. All those things that go into being a good breakout team under pressure, we have some room to improve. The first 10 minutes of practice today, that's what that was."

The forward line rushes remained the same as they were in the game, with the seven defencemen on the roster (after Sami Niku's reassignment earlier on Friday morning) rotating through the drills:






After a quick run through at the morning skate prior to the Wild match-up, the Jets continued to work on a power play wrinkle putting Blake Wheeler on the left side half wall, with Laine on the other.

The first look generated five shots on goal in the opening period against the Wild. Kyle Connor had a few of those chances and while they didn't go in, he likes what the new look does in terms of creating confusion.

"We read off each other pretty well. We've been together for a bit now," said Connor. "We had a lot of chances there and easily could have had two or three. I'm looking forward to another game with it and seeing how it's going to take."

Connor scored his second goal of the season against the Wild last night during a stretch of four-on-four play that saw the Jets score twice in 28 seconds.

"We've got some pretty special and talented players," said Connor. "When we get that open ice out there, the game opens up and we get a little more creative. With our speed too, there are not a lot of teams that can handle that. We can be pretty lethal."


Sami Niku was reassigned to the Manitoba Moose on Friday. He made his NHL season debut in the 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins playing 17:01 and blocking three shots.

He'll join the Moose in time for their home opener Friday night against the Toronto Marlies.

"I didn't have him in the game tomorrow night and the Moose are playing tonight," said Maurice. "We're not going to let a young guy that can play, sit. Practice was 30 minutes of passing, light movement, get ready for the game tomorrow. He wouldn't have got a whole lot out of it.

"We want those guys to get as much game time as we possibly can."

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