By Michael LebowiePosted February 06, 2018 06:10:06The Winnipeg Jets are in position to win the Stanley Cup, but it doesn’t have to be right away.
Coach Paul Maurice said the Jets have to take a few weeks off before getting back on the ice to prepare for the playoffs.
He has had to make that decision after losing his starting goaltender in the offseason, but the Jets are on track to make the playoffs in his first year as a head coach.
“We’re going to go back and prepare for what we know is coming,” Maurice said Wednesday during a break in practice.
“I think there are a few things we’ve done in our preseason that I think we can get better on and that will help us make it a little bit easier going into the playoffs.”
The Jets are 10-11-1 in the regular season with a 3-1-1 record in their last 11 games.
They won five of their first six games, including a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.
Maurice said he’s not worried about the loss of Cory Schneider, who is expected to miss the playoffs because of a groin injury.
“No, I think they’ve got a lot of guys who are ready,” Maurice told reporters.
“We’ve got Cory Schneider and Nik Ehlers, who’s back.
I think Nik Ehler, Cory Schneider are two of the guys that are ready to go.”
Maurie said Schneider, along with winger Tyler Myers, should be back soon, although Myers hasn’t played since November 14.
“You want to give guys a break, but at the same time, it’s important that they keep playing,” Maurice added.
“It’s important for them to have a chance to get back to the playoffs, but I think there’s a lot more to play for than just that.”
The Stars will have to replace star defenseman Jamie Oleksiak after he sustained a concussion last Friday.
He missed the rest of the regular-season finale against the Colorado Avalanche and has missed the last four games.
The Stars have won three of their last four.
The Jets have not lost to the Wild since Feb. 5, 2012, when they were 9-7-1 and the Stars were 7-5-1.
The Stars and Jets are 2-4-1 this season, tied for second-best in the NHL.
The Jets won their first four games and the Wild won three.
The Winnipeg-Minnesota rivalry began in the 1960s when the Jets and Minnesota Wild played a three-game series.
The teams have never met in the playoffs but both are currently tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference.