WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets, minus their four Olympians, returned to the ice for their first practice after the Olympic break Wednesday, looking to close the two-point gap between themselves and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Since new head coach Paul Maurice took over, the Jets have gone on a pretty surprising run but now they have to finish the task of qualifying in order to qualify for just their second playoff appearance in franchise history.
It's been seven years since the Atlanta Thrashers were swept in the first round of the NHL playoffs in their only appearance.
Forwards Olli Jokinen, Blake Wheeler and Michael Frolik, plus No. 1 netminder Ondrej Pavelec, are still in Sochi and a couple of other players were nursing minor injuries and didn't skate.
Maurice says he wants to work on things like defensive systems and forechecking without the puck as they prepare to return to game action.
But he's also scheduling Friday's practice to allow the team to get together and watch Canada meet the United States in one of the men's Olympic hockey semifinals.