DENVER, CO - As the Winnipeg Jets wrapped up a lightly attended practice at Denver University Monday afternoon, an announcement arrived from the NHL that Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele will be going back to St. Louis earlier than scheduled.
Hellebuyck and Scheifele were named to the Central Division All-Star team. Both players are going to their second All-Star weekend, Scheifele is going in back-to-back years, Hellebuyck took part in Tampa Bay back in 2018.
"Good for them, good for us. Connor has been so strong right from the start of the year and I'm glad he got that recognition," said Paul Maurice.
"Mark has started to cement himself as an elite player in the league year over year. It's good that the recognition is there because they both put in an awful lot of time in to become better pros."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
Hellebuyck has been the story for the Jets so far this season as he is tied for third in the league in wins (17), tied for eighth in save percentage (.923) and tied for the lead in shutouts (3). On top of that, the 26-year-old Michigan native is tied for first in franchise history with Ondrej Pavelec for most shutouts (17) and is 18 wins behind Pavelec for most wins.
"This is exciting. I'm going to enjoy every minute of it," said Hellebuyck.
"Testament to the guys in front of me, making my job pretty easy so I'm going to go enjoy this."
Video: PRACTICE | Connor Hellebuyck
Scheifele went last year to San Jose for his debut at the event. The 25-year-old is tied for the team lead in goals (17) and assists (23) and leads the Jets with 40 points. Lately, he has worked well with Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor on Winnipeg's top line.
"Obviously very happy, it's a huge honour to be selected for it," said Scheifele.
"Definitely very excited and it's definitely a huge honour."
Video: PRACTICE | Mark Scheifele
After he got the call in 2018, Hellebuyck said he planned to make a huge glove save during the game and get the fans to cheer his name. Sounds like that plan hasn't changed for when he gets this turn in St. Louis.
"I don't want to be holding any secrets back but yes I am." smiled Hellebuyck.
Nerves didn't get to Scheifele last year at the SAP Center considering how relaxed the atmosphere is. He said that the competitive juices really started flowing in the final which the Central Division lost to Metropolitan Division 10-5.
"It's just a fun thing. That's the biggest thing. You just have to try to have fun at it," said Scheifele.
"It's not a pressure situation. It's an exciting time, fun experience to get to go to and I think that's what you got to do, you have to soak it all in."
As for the Jets, they played a couple of real heavy games against the St. Louis Blues this past weekend so numerous players took today off. Mathieu Perreault took part of the practice and if everything goes well he might be in the lineup against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Winnipeg has gone 1-4-1 since Perreault was injured during a 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on December 15th.
"For him (Perreault) to come off IR we wait until the last minute right?," said Maurice.
"We'll get him through the morning skate tomorrow and make that decision but he's feeling strong."