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HELSINKI — Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice comes into this week’s games in Finland riding a two-game win streak in the country.
Maurice was calling the shots behind the Carolina bench in 2010 when the Hurricanes confronted the Minnesota Wild for a pair of games here to begin their 2010-11 NHL regular season.
The ‘Canes departed with four points after posting a 4-3 triumph in the opener and closing the early October Nordic series with a 2-1 shootout win.
“Yeah, 2010 with Carolina to open the season, two wins. Jeff (Skinner) scored a shootout game-winning goal as an 18-year-old, I believe. We were in here and it was a pretty good trip for us,” Maurice recalled Monday.
Skinner, Carolina’s first-round pick (seventh overall) mere months before, had a memorable Game 2, indeed, setting up Finnish-born winger Tuomo Ruutu’s game-tying goal in the second period for his first NHL point and then firing the shootout winner.
Maurice steps behind the bench at Helsinki’s 13,400-seat Hartwall Arena again this week as the Jets (7-4-1) and Florida Panthers (2-4-3) meet for a two-game set Thursday and Friday — both with 1 p.m. Winnipeg start times.
Neither club skated Monday as players from both sides fanned out to do some sightseeing, but practice sessions are slated for today and Wednesday.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to spend some time together. We haven’t really had a chance to do that yet,” said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. “We had a long homestand, so we’re excited to get away from home and get to know each other a little bit and try to build some things that are a little bit easier to do when you’re spending time around the same guys for extended periods of time.”
Maurice and Panthers head coach Bob Boughner have some shared history. The ex-defenceman, who played 630 NHL games, was with the Hurricanes for a stint in 2003-04 when Maurice coached in Raleigh, N.C.
The two won’t be hanging out to swap stories about the good old days this week.
“No, coaches still adhere, for the most part, to the old days where we don’t talk to each other,” said Maurice. “Maybe after the game we would talk, but not before, probably.”
The Jets, about 6,700 kilometres away from Bell MTS Place, are considered the visiting team Thursday but get the last change as the home side Friday.
Winnipeg heads home Saturday and doesn’t play until Nov. 9 when the Colorado Avalanche stop by for a matchup of Central Division rivals.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said it’s difficult to predict how participation in the NHL’s Global Series — unique and exciting but a disruption to routine, nonetheless — might affect his team down the road.
“Well, that’s something you can look at in hindsight more than in foresight, but we’re looking at it as an opportunity for bonding and for the opportunity to get out on the road together and to enjoy the experience,” said Cheveldayoff. “When you’re part of a team, when you’re trying to get a season started, you’re looking for things to try and come together on. You’ve got the on-ice stuff and you’ve got the off-ice stuff and it’s hard to manufacture things.
“But when you’re on a trip like this, there’s going to be some laughter and some jokes, there’s going to be some different things that are already etched on the guys’ minds, just on the way over (from the airport).”
A seven-point week has earned Mark Scheifele star status this week in the NHL.
The Winnipeg Jets centre was named the league’s second star of the week after he scored four goals and set up three others in four games last week.
Scheifele, 25, matched a career-high with four points (2G, 2A) in the Jets’ 5-4 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues last Monday, including an assist on defenceman Jacob Trouba’s winner. He also fired a power-play goal Wednesday in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The former first-round pick set up Kyle Connor’s tying goal as Winnipeg rallied to beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Friday, and then scored in a losing effort the next night in Toronto as the Leafs posted a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
Scheifele is currently riding a five-game point streak (4G, 4A), and has 12 points (6G, 6A) this season.
Pittsburgh Penguins centre Sidney Crosby was named the NHL’s top star, with five goals and two assists this week, while Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (3G, 4A) was named third star.
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).