Preview: Coyotes at Jets, 5:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona Plus
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The NHL trade deadline is three weeks away, but the Winnipeg Jets may have already made their big move.
The Central Division leaders welcomed No. 1 center Mark Scheifele back to a full-contact practice on Monday, and if all goes according to plan, he could be in the lineup on Friday against the St. Louis Blues, who are hot on the Jets’ heels.
Scheifele will spend one more night in the press box on Tuesday as the Jets welcome the team forever be known around these parts as “the old Jets,” the Arizona Coyotes. The original Jets relocated to Phoenix after the 1995-96 season.
The Coyotes come to town on the heels of a 6-0 walloping from the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and have lost eight of their past 10 games.
“It’s probably right up there with one of the worst games for us,” Coyotes coach Rich Tocchet said.
"You're going to get the best of the best. And if you're not not in compete mode — and that's my job to get these guys to compete — you're going to get embarrassed." — Rick Tocchet. pic.twitter.com/GsGn9jqgqj
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) February 4, 2018
The Coyotes got a scare late last week when goaltender Antti Raanta was in an automobile accident. He sat on the bench against the Kings and is listed as day to day. Scott Wedgewood allowed six goals for the third time in his last four starts against the Kings.
The Coyotes have lost their last eight meetings on the road against the Jets and are 1-5 in their last six meetings.
Winnipeg’s Scheifele has been out of action since falling awkwardly agasint the Edmonton Oilers at the end of December. In keeping with the NHL-wide secrecy surrounding injuries, Scheifele declined to reveal any details, even though he left the ice clutching his upper arm or shoulder after falling.
“I went into the boards and I hurt myself,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t want to give you the specifics, but it’s healing really well. Obviously, it sucked, being out for that long. It gets boring and being in a sling for as long as I was sucked. But (I’m) feeling better every day and I’m happy I’m battling.
“It’s nice to get some bumps in and be feeling good from it. I’m happy with my progress.”
Scheifele’s return could hardly come at a better time as center Matt Hendricks and winger Brandon Tanev are day to day and week to week, respectively, after suffering upper-body injuries in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Jets center Adam Lowry is out again after aggravating a previous injury last week, but he could return Friday.
Even without Scheifele’s point-a-game scoring for the 15 games, The Jets (31-13-9) are fifth in the league with 170 goals. Patrick Laine has 24 goals and Nikolaj Ehlers has 20. Blake Wheeler has 44 assists and a team-high 58 points.
Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has a 27-6-8 record with a 2.30 goals-against average and a save percentage of .925.