Beyak: Training camp off to fast start for Jets

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Dennis Beyak
9/16/2013 1:31:47 AM
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For many NHL teams, the Winnipeg Jets included, it has been a quick start to training camp.

After hitting the ice Thursday, the Jets played pre-season games Saturday and Sunday.

The Saturday contest was a 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals in a game played in Belleville, while Sunday was a 3-1 home loss to the Ottawa Senators. 

As always MTS Centre was ready for hockey.

Coach Claude Noel was quite pleased with what he saw in the game Saturday, as the line of Mark Scheifele, Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi had a good night, Kane leading the way with two goals. Eddie Pasquale was very good in goal.

Sunday was a different story.

"It looked like an early pre-season game," stated Coach Noel. "Looked like a group that has never played together. We struggled with breakouts, puck support, not a lot of chemistry."

Coach Noel would like to get down to a smaller group, but "yes, our numbers are a little too big, but we still have six games to play and have some guys banged up. It's a fine line. You want to be fair, but also loyal to your own players."

At every training camp you have players that realize they have only a short time to impress. Others don't seem to realize that, and at the end of the night leave you wondering how badly they want to make the big club, but it is early.

A number of players have yet to play a pre-season game, but that will change. Going back to Saturday, the Jets will play five in eight nights to start the exhibition schedule.

Next up the Jets will face the Edmonton Oilers at MTS Centre Tuesday (TSN 1290) and Thursday the Minnesota Wild also at MTS Centre (TSN Jets and TSN 1290).

Included in the list of players to not get into a game yet are veterans Dustin Byfuglin, Olli Jokinen, Ondrej Pavelec and Mark Stuart.

As expected there will be completion for spots, and that is a good thing. Offensive forwards can compete for a spot or two in the top nine, while another five or six will compete for spots on the fourth line. Same goes for the back end. At least five defenceman will compete for the final two spots.

The young players have all shown potential. Soon they will head back to their junior teams and continue their development. With no camps last year because of the lockout, teams are finally getting a good look at their draft picks.

As the size of the group dwindles, more time will be spent on areas the teams need to improve.

Goals against is still a concern, and just being a tougher team to play against is something the organization wants and needs.

Much of the training camp talk has been about the move to the Western Conference and how they will adapt, and will youngsters Scheifele and Jacob Trouba make the team. Time will answer both those questions.

Evander Kane (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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