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It may not be your idea of fun, but Winnipeg Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey could hardly contain his excitement at getting to chase Connor McDavid all over the ice Thursday night in Edmonton.
Morrissey, along with defence partner Jacob Trouba, weren’t exactly being eased into the pre-season by getting matched up against McDavid and a loaded Oilers lineup.
“He’s probably the fastest guy in the world. So, I guess you may as well hop into it right off the bat with probably the toughest guy to play against,” Morrissey said following the pre-game skate in Winnipeg. “It’s going to be a fun test. Fun to work on things, see where you’re at. It’s always a very difficult challenge, but one that Troubs and I enjoy.”
Morrissey missed the first three days of training camp before signing a two-year, US$6.3-million contract extension on Sunday. After a few days of getting up to speed, he was looking forward to some game action.
“I think it’s just becoming sharp again, obviously execution for me is what I want to see from myself. Just trying to execute the little plays. Everyone works on things in the off-season, but you just want to get back into the swing of things, get back into the rhythm of the game,” he said.
His line might have been robbed a goal in Monday’s pre-season game against the Minnesota Wild, but Jack Roslovic figures it means some good karma will eventually come its way.
Roslovic threaded a beautiful pass to linemate Kristian Vesalainen that appeared to end with the Finnish teen beating Wild goalie Andrew Hammond. Only it wasn’t ruled a goal on the ice, and there’s no video-replay review in exhibition games.
“That’s all right. Save it for the season,” Roslovic joked Thursday.
Of course, the Jets got some good fortune a few moments later when defenceman Joe Morrow was credited with what turned into the game-winning goal — even though replays appeared to show his shot hit iron and never crossed the goal line. As for Roslovic, he was excited about the chance for another look at the centre position Thursday night in Edmonton — and the chance to line up against McDavid and company.
“It’s always fun playing against a guy like that. You get to test yourself a little bit,” he said.
Mason Appleton, the reigning AHL rookie of the year, was added to the line with Roslovic and Vesalainen in place of veteran Mathieu Perreault, who didn’t make the short road trip. Roslovic and Appleton developed strong chemistry last season with the Manitoba Moose.
“It’s awesome. He’s a great player. He hasn’t skated with us recently. But I think that he deserved the opportunity to play in this game,” Roslovic said.
Dustin Byfuglien and Dmitry Kulikov were back on the ice for Thursday’s training-camp session after missing the first part of the week with what Jets head coach Paul Maurice called minor maintenance.
The defencemen took part in an afternoon session with other players who didn’t make the trip to Edmonton. The majority of this group will likely be in the lineup tonight as the Jets host the Calgary Flames at Bell MTS Place.
Maurice said he wants to avoid having players go back-to-back as much as possible. Winnipeg’s pre-season continues with games Sunday in Winnipeg (against Edmonton) and Monday in Calgary, then next Wednesday in Minnesota and Thursday back in Winnipeg (against the New Jersey Devils).
As a result, the Jets will likely hold off on their final roster cuts until after the pre-season games are done, as they’ll want to keep extra players around longer, just to get through the stretch of six games in eight days.
Ondrej Pavelec’s career is over.
The former No. 1 goalie for the Jets announced his retirement Thursday, only two seasons after he lost his starting job in Winnipeg and was demoted to the minors.
Pavelec, 31, spent most of that 2016-17 season with the Jets AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, then signed a one-year deal to be the backup for the New York Rangers last season.
He went 4-9-1 in 19 games with a 3.05 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
For his career, Pavelec appeared in 398 regular-season NHL games over 11 seasons with a 2.88 GAA and .907 SP. His best season came in 2014-15, when he got hot down the stretch and helped lead the Jets into the playoffs, where they were promptly swept by the Anaheim Ducks in four games.
Pavelec thanked Maurice, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, Moose head coach Pascal Vincent and Jets chairman Mark Chipman, among others, in a farewell statement released by agent Allan Walsh.
“I also want to thank the amazing fans in Winnipeg and New York for their support,” he said.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.