The Winnipeg Jets have now hit the ice twice in 2023 and are currently preparing for their first game of the calendar year – a home test against a visiting Calgary Flames team at 7:00 PM central time on Tuesday evening.
A welcomed sight for the Jets was the fact that a number of injured players skated with the group on Monday, before the optional team skate on Tuesday morning.
Making an appearance for Winnipeg on Monday morning were forwards Nikolaj Ehlers, Cole Perfetti, Blake Wheeler and Saku Maenalanen, while defenceman Nate Schmidt also practiced with the team. Schmidt wore a standard white defensive sweater, while Ehlers and Perfetti wore light blue, as if to indicate they were operating at full power, but skating as the extra forwards. Wheeler and Maenalanen wore non-contact red sweaters, and participated partially in the team aspects of the group skate.
“It feels like I’ve been gone forever but it’s only been two weeks,” Schmidt said, following the skate. “It’s fun to be back out and just yukking it up with the fellas, not just going out for the red dragon skate. It’s nice to have the guys back together.”
Although coach Bowness said none of the players who returned to practice would skate in the team’s game on Tuesday, they are all extremely close to being ready to go.
“Feels good to be out there with the guys,” Ehlers said. “Feels good to be a little closer to the guys and a little bit more on the same page as them. It’s nice. It feels good.”
Shortly after practice, it was noted that fellow forward Jansen Harkins had been placed on Waivers. On Tuesday, he passed through, unclaimed, meaning he could now be sent to the Manitoba Moose as a way of making room for an injury list returnee.
No matter who makes up the lineup for Winnipeg, the team will look to play in a similar manner to that of its performance in its 2-1 New Year’s Eve victory in Edmonton just a couple nights ago.
“We have to be ready to play no matter who is in the lineup,” defenceman Neal Pionk said on Tuesday morning. “Every team has injuries, every team has something that they are going through. We got to find a way through it.”