Over 5,000 fans were at MTS Centre on Sunday as the Winnipeg Jets opened their second NHL training camp.
"It was nice to see the fans in the stands, it was exactly what I was looking for," said goaltender Ondrej Pavelec told TSN Radio 1290. "It helps you to get going, the last couple months have not been easy for anybody. We are back in business and need to get going right now. We don't have that much time to practice."
Pavelec played 68 games for the Jets last season. When asked about this shortened season and how much work Pavelec would get, head coach Claude Noel couldn't say for sure.
"I wouldn't put a number on it because it's going to be based on performance," said Noel. "We're going to have to really monitor the energy level and fatigue and be in touch with the goaltending guy (goalie coach Wade Flaherty).
"We brought Al Montoya here to play, so how many games is that we don't know, but I like his attitude and I think we're getting Al Montoya in a good situation because I think he's at a point in his career where he understands things".
A total of 24 players were put through a number of on ice drills on Sunday. Not taking part due to injury were forward Nik Antropov and defenceman Zach Bogosian. Antropov did not pass his medical due to an upper-body injury but he is hopeful to play against Ottawa on Saturday. Both players did skate following the main practice with strength and conditioning coach Lee Stubbs.
The Jets now have five days of practice to prepare for the opening game against the Senators and Noel talked about his approach.
"Our goal is to try and get us all at the same level at some time so we can all function better," offered the head coach. "The biggest thing is teaching the players to try and help them with their focus, recognizing that we don't want to concern ourselves with injury problems. It's always about the games, but in this short sprint, it's going to be what we're doing on the ice that reaches the playoffs."
If there is a positive to this shortened season, it's the familiarity the management and coaching staff has with their players. Tanner Glass, Tim Stapleton, Chris Mason and Mark Flood are the only notables not back, but otherwise the core group remains, according to Noel.
"Last year, I stood up here and said I'm the third coach in four years for these players; it's a different location, a whole different scenario," said Noel. "This year, the players look a lot more comfortable and they know what to expect from the fans, the city, the coach, I think that's real good.
"We have to improve our goals against, our road play, obviously and our numbers, like special teams. We just have to perform better."
The Jets will practice at MTS Centre Monday through Friday, with the exception of Wednesday's skate, which will be held at MTS IcePlex due to a concert downtown.