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PRINT EDITION
Maurice tweaks forward lines before Jets open season against the Blues
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By JUDY OWEN
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Thursday, October 4, 2018 – Page B15

WINNIPEG -- Mathieu Perreault is looking forward to feeding the puck to Patrik Laine.

The veteran is part of two newly formed lines Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice is testing out when the team opens its season Thursday in St. Louis.

Perreault will play left wing with centre Bryan Little and Laine, who fired in 44 goals last season, second in NHL goal scoring to Washington's Alex Ovechkin.

"I'm the kind of guy that likes to get on the fore-check and disrupt defencemen and try to strip pucks," Perreault said after Wednesday's practice. "If I can do that and he can find himself in good spots in the offensive zone, I can definitely try to give him the puck and let him shoot it.

"I know he's a shooter. I like to think I'm more of a passer so this could be a good combination."

Little had centred a line with Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers for most of last season until Paul Stastny was acquired at the trade deadline and took Little's spot. Stastny signed as a free agent with Vegas in the off-season.

Maurice has been tinkering in the preseason with lineups for the club that set a franchise record last season by reaching the Western Conference final, which it lost in five games to the Golden Knights.

The second new line has Ehlers skating with sophomore centre Jack Roslovic and Finnish rookie Kristian Vesalainen, the team's first-round pick (24th over all) in the 2017 NHL draft.

"This wasn't something on paper at the start of camp that we'd go to," Maurice said. "We kind of worked our way through to it."

He'll start seeing the results on Thursday, but added nothing is set in stone for the trios.

"I like what they might be able to do," Maurice said. "I've got lots of confidence.

"I also know we're going to change those lines, that's just the way a year goes."

Winnipeg's top line remains intact with centre Mark Scheifele, sophomore left-winger Kyle Connor and captain Blake Wheeler.

The fourth line of centre Adam Lowry with Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev also spent a lot of time together last season.

"The depth we have now is up there in the league," said Little, who's entering his 12th season.

"And our ability to shuffle things around if things aren't going well, we have a lot of different options and combinations we can come up with."

Perreault's versatility over the past nine seasons has been his calling card as he's been moved around with the Jets and when he played for Washington and Anaheim. "It's fun," he said. "I like to play with different guys. It's a new challenge."

Little and Perrreault agree with their line's objectives.

"Keep it simple," Little said.

"Obviously, me and Perreault want to set Laine up in good positions to shoot the puck because that's going to be the weapon on our line. So put him in a good spot and go to work."


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