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Tuning up for the Lightning

by Mitchell Clinton (@MClinton007) / Winnipeg Jets

– One more sleep.

That may have been on the minds of the Winnipeg Jets as they took to the ice for their third consecutive day of practice, on the fourth and final day between their last game against St. Louis, and their next against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It seems like it’s like this every year. You get these breaks at the start of the year for whatever reason, and toward the end you’re playing every other day,” said captain Andrew Ladd. “It is what it is, you take advantage of the rest whenever you get it, and hope to use it the right way.”

The rest was beneficial for defenceman Ben Chiarot, who skated with Tyler Myers at today’s practice. Chiarot had been dealing with an injury that kept him out of the last three games.

As for Myers, he’s looking ahead to tomorrow’s game against Tampa Bay. The 2014-2015 Stanley Cup finalists come into MTS Centre with a 4-2-1 record.

“As well as they did last year, we know they’re a good team. They play a tight system,” said Myers. “With the guys they have, they have some weapons, especially up front. It’s just a matter of, whoever it is, limiting their time and space whenever we can.”

Steven Stamkos is one of the weapons the Jets will have their eye on. Coach Paul Maurice says the Lightning centre is known for his shot, but thinks there is more to Stamkos than just that.

“Where it gets to be a bigger challenge is when you add experience to it. He’s been in the league now, he’s got the experience, he knows when to finish his checks,” said Maurice to reporters. “He’s quite a bit more physical as a player than when he came into the league. He’s now leading that
on the ice. He can tell when his team needs a push.”

The Jets split the two meetings against the Lightning last season, with the Jets picking up a 2-1 victory at Amalie Arena March 14. Defensively, the Jets only allowed 16 shots that night.

“We’re trying to play that game every single night - that solid defensive game,” said Maurice. “But we have different kinds of players here as well. So we also want to do some other things offensively. We’re focused on the balance.”

Six games into the season, Winnipeg finds itself with a +7 in the goals for and against ledger. On the other side, the Jets have given up 157 shots against, and have put 145 toward opposing goaltenders.

“I’ll say I’m not overly jacked up about our differential, and I’m not concerned yet about our shots for and against,” said Maurice. “We chart shots differently. We don’t put much stock into the low percentage shots, we put a lot more concern into the higher percentage shots.”

It’s all a process to get to the game the Jets want to play. A game Ladd says the team is still working toward.

“I like the fact that there’s a long way for us to go. We’ve seen some good things, but it’s putting it all together consistently,” said Ladd. “That first period against St. Louis, that was probably our best period of the season. We have to find a way to carry that over and keep it going.”

– Mitchell Clinton,

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