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HELSINKI — No.1 goalie Connor Hellebuyck gets the starting assignment when the Jets face the Florida Panthers here Thursday night.
Jets coach Paul Maurice confirmed the news this morning following practice at Hartwall Arena, site of the 2018 NHL Global Series, a two-game set between Winnipeg and Florida.
The rematch goes Friday night.
“Connor’s going tomorrow and I don’t have a plan for (after) that because Connor likes to play a lot of games,” said Maurice.
While Hellebuyck could return to the net 24 hours later, the club also has a rested Laurent Brossoit at its disposal as well, and he’s unbeaten in three starts.
Winnipeg’s bench boss said while he’s leaning in the direction of playing his backup Friday, a light workload in Game 1 and Hellebuyck’s insistence on wanting back-to-back assignments will factor into the decision.
“If Connor gets out there and feels really good, we’re not worried about fatigue and we don’t play till next (Friday), then I know he’s made the time-zone change. It will be volume, too; if he gets into the 40s (shots) we might want to be careful of that,” said Maurice.
“The open door on that is that Laurent has been so good in volume games, he’s just played so well. I guess my starting point would be slightly leaning toward that but I’ll judge it all based on the game.
“The caveat is we have a real good relationship with Connor Hellebuyck and if he bangs the table and says he needs it, that he has to go back in, I’ll consider it.”
Today’s practices were open to the public, and a few thousand fans were in the building, with all eyes on Florida’s Aleksander Barkov and Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine.
Both young stars hail from Tampere, Finland.
Winnipeg (7-4-1) is third in the Central Division, while the Panthers (2-4-3) are last in the Atlantic Division.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).