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Practice Day Notebook: Feb. 9

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick /


Looking for a spark on the back end, Head Coach Paul Maurice and the Winnipeg Jets have made a swap in the Top 4.

Toby Enstrom reunites with Dustin Byfuglien while Josh Morrissey will skate alongside Jacob Trouba as the Jets look to snap a mini two-game slide tomorrow night.

The third pairing of Mark Stuart and Paul Postma remains intact.

"We moved two players (Enstrom and Morrissey) that are really similar," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "Dustin, from Day 1, liked Josh and wanted to play with Josh and it's really been a good thing for him. … Josh, I don't think, needs that safety valve anymore.

"It's something we wanted to see, but we wanted to make sure we didn't take away from Josh or Jake's good things that they were doing, because both have been really good this year."

Trouba, who's been playing some of the best hockey of his career in recent weeks, welcomes the change.

"(Morrissey's) not the biggest guy out there, but he doesn't play little. He's shown he can play some pretty good hockey this year, so I'm excited to get the opportunity to play with him."

The forward lines will be the same as they were to start Tuesday's game against the Wild:

Nikolaj Ehlers - Bryan Little - Patrik Laine; Andrew Copp - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler; Shawn Matthias - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia; Mathieu Perreault - Nic Petan - Drew Stafford


Connor Hellebuyck will get the start in goal on Friday when the Jets welcome to the Chicago Blackhawks to MTS Centre for the second time this season. The 23-year-old came on in relief of Ondrej Pavelec on Tuesday and stopped all 10 shots he faced in more than 30 minutes of work, which included a penalty shot by Mikael Granlund in the third period.

His last start came on Jan. 26 when he made 38 saves in a 4-3 win on the road over the very same Hawks. The rookie has started (and won) all four games against them this season, allowing only five goals on 124 combined shots for a .960 save percentage.

In his mind, the extended time off turned out to be a good thing, as he's been able to recharge the batteries after playing every other day for the past four months.

"I've really had some time to recover from the grind of the beginning of the season, go back and really work on the finer details of my game," Hellebuyck said. "It's hard to say now [how taxing it was] because my body has recovered from it. You don't even realize how mentally and physically grinding it is because every day you're continuing on and once you recover, you're like, 'Wow, this is what good feels like.'"

The coach has seen a difference in the goalie's practice habits as well.

"Mentally, he looks sharp; he's moving in the net, he's back chirping at guys in practice. That's the sign of a confident guy.

"He looks fresh and probably a little bit hungry."


'Why, pray tell, are you so good against these guys?'

The players have answered it repeatedly this year, but with the Hawks in town for a Friday-night primetime clash, it was bound to come up again today.

"They're normally one of the better teams in our conference, one of the best teams in the league, and they seem to bring out a pretty good game in us," Blake Wheeler said. "We've had a couple good bounces go our way against these guys and you need that when you're playing the best teams. For whatever reason, it's a matchup we've had some success with.

"Maybe we're a little bit of a thorn in their side, and we need that to continue."


Pavelec, who suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday's loss to the Minnesota Wild, will miss about a week of action.

Ben Chiarot (upper body) has been cleared for contact and was a full participant in today's practice and could be an option tomorrow on D tomorrow night. For today, anyway, the 25-year-old was paired with Julian Melchiori on the 'fourth' unit.

"We'll always push it to the last minute to make sure he wakes up and feels fresh, but he can be a player for us (Friday)," Maurice said.

- Ryan Dittrick,

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