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Training Camp Notebook - Jan. 12, 2021

A change to the power play, Harkins' timeline, and Lewis' camp

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - Paul Maurice has been experimenting with a different look for the second power play unit.

That experiment involves using one of the right-handed shots from the first unit - Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, or Blake Wheeler - in the slot on the second.

"Mark Scheifele's unit, when it has possession, there isn't a tremendous amount of motion. They can play out there longer," said Maurice. "Each one of them is different in the way they approach it, so it's a different style for the killers too."

Scheifele (3:18), Wheeler (3:16), and Laine (3:14) finished first, third, and fourth respectively in average power play ice time per game last season. For Scheifele, playing the slot on the second unit won't be much of a change.

Laine has been in that spot on occasions when he and Scheifele rotate to create a bit of motion on the man advantage as well. Wheeler is used to being the set up man on the first unit, but has shown his ability to deflect pucks on numerous occasions.

"Mark is more surgical in the holes that he tries to find," said Maurice. "He's played that position so he understands it differently. Patty has more motion in there. Blake almost looks to get to the net a little bit heavier. They're all different."

Mathieu Perreault, who scored two of Winnipeg's 38 goals when at a 5-on-4 advantage in 2019-20, is intrigued by the move.

"It just works with the hands. We need a right-handed shooter in the slot," he said of his unit with Nikolaj Ehlers, Paul Stastny, and Josh Morrissey.

As with anything, performance will be the most important driver of Maurice's experiment. He'd like to see the power play get back into the league's top 10, even better if it ends up where it was each of the last two seasons - the top five.

"We'll see who is scoring," Maurice said. "It gives that group another A-shooter in that spot."

HARKINS ON ICE AGAIN

Six days ago, Jansen Harkins scored once and added an assist in the first scrimmage of camp, but hadn't been on the ice with the main group since.

That changed as Tuesday's skate came to a close. Harkins - along with Dylan Samberg and Logan Stanley - came on the ice to get in some work with the Jets assistant coaches.

Still, there is a ways to go before Maurice can declare Harkins ready for opening night.

"Going to have to wait and see where he's at tomorrow," said Maurice. "He still hasn't come back to full practice. It wasn't a contact issue for him today, so he wasn't in the gold non-contact uniform, but he hasn't had a push yet. We leaned on him a little bit today. We're being very cautious with it."

It's easy to see the need to be cautious. The Jets play eight games in 16 days to open the season.

"You have your one off against Calgary. Then there is the next group of games, that's a six-game block coming up after that. There is a five (games) in seven (nights) internal on that," said Maurice.

"I don't know how many players we would've had that would have played a five in seven block. You don't see it in the NHL much anymore."

LEWIS CONTINUES TO IMPRESS

Like Harkins, Trevor Lewis had a multi-point game in last week's scrimmage. The veteran forward skated with Mathieu Perreault and Nate Thompson on Tuesday and continues to impress.

"He's still on a PTO, so there is some groundwork that has to be covered. He's in the mix for sure, he's had a really good camp," said Maurice. "You know the guy is a player, he's been around. We have people here that are really familiar with him. That need and that style of play, he fits to a tee."

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