WINNIPEG – Sunday’s practice at Bell MTS Iceplex was a fast-paced, 75-minute session that kept the players flying up-and-down the ice surface before ending with a bit of a conditioning skate.
And Morgan Barron loved every second of it.
The 23-year-old finally shed his non-contact red jersey and was a full participant for the first time in training camp.
“I don’t really have a gauge for what’s a hard practice and what’s not right now just because I haven’t been in enough full ones,” Barron smiled. “It was good for me to jump back in. There is a lot of game situation drills, two-on-twos and things like that. That’s the part of the game I’m going to get back here in these next few skates. “
Barron has been dealing with a minor upper-body injury he sustained during the skates the players held prior to training camp. While he wasn’t able to immediately get back on the ice with the team, Barron did skate on his own sheet (with other injured players at the time – Brad Lambert and Wyatt Bongiovanni), before returning to the full group in a red contact. jersey late last week.
Video: CAMP | Morgan Barron
He’s sat in every meeting throughout the camp, trying to soak up as much of the new system as he could.
“It was good because we had two groups a lot. So if one group was on the ice, I was able to sit in the meetings and then when they would flip and the other group would go on the ice, I’d be able to watch practice and follow along,” Barron said. “It’s tough when you’re not actually doing it, so that’s what I’m hoping to get in these few skates. Hopefully it comes pretty quickly when I’m actually doing it on the ice.”
The product of Halifax, NS came to the Jets at the trade deadline last season and had two goals and four points in 14 games. He was also a big part of a Manitoba Moose team that nearly rallied from two games down to Milwaukee in the AHL playoffs last spring, before ultimately falling in the fifth and deciding game.
Barron’s four goals and six points in that series were behind only Declan Chisholm for the team lead.
“I felt I strung together a good couple weeks of hockey after the trade. I was playing and not thinking that much, and the results were there,” said Barron. “I still felt like there was another level I could have gotten to, and I will get to, so it left me in a good place.”
Video: CAMP | Rick Bowness
He’s a player that has intrigued head coach Rick Bowness and the coaching staff for a while, and now they’ll get to see him in action with two games left on the preseason schedule.
“I’ve wanted to see what (Adam) Lowry, and Mason (Appleton), and Barron would look like. We’re going to take a look at that in the next two games,” Bowness said. “He’s a little bit behind because of the injury which is a little bit unfortunate, because he’s one of the guys we had penciled in as one to take a really good look at. You deal with the way it is. He’ll get a real good look the next two games.”
Bowness’ message for Barron is simple. Go play. Don’t get bogged down in trying to be perfect systematically right away.
“It’s go play as hard as you can and the details of the game – and the timing of the game because he’s way behind at that – you have to play the games,” Bowness said. “It’s one thing to watch a video on what we’re doing, and it’s another when bodies are flying all over the place at a much higher speed than what you’re used to. He just has to play, it’s as simple as that. “
Video: CAMP | Nikolaj Ehlers
MIXING IT UP
The majority of the camp to this point has been focused on implementing systems at five-on-five.
That changed on Sunday, as there was a particular focus on four-on-four, as well as three-on-three.
“We had some Grade As last night in overtime. We had some good chances, so that was good to see,” said Bowness. “But there are also some principles that we want to put in place in the three-on-three, hanging onto pucks and when to change, and things like that, and how to hem them in their zone. Same with four-on- 4 with face-off assignments, we have to know what we’re doing.”
Brad Lambert generated a glorious chance on his own in the opening minute, while Nate Schmidt had a partial breakaway, and Dominic Toninato Had a good look in tight after a pass from Blake Wheeler.
Video: CAMP | Cole Perfetti
Three-on-three is usually a time where Nikolaj Ehlers’ speed really stands out – even more than at five-on-five – but with him out of the line-up last night against Edmonton, he got his reps in on Sunday.
“You want to try and keep possession of the puck, especially in three-on-three in overtime,” Ehlers said. “You’re not going to get a chance every single time, but as long as you hold possession of the puck, they don’t get a chance. Three-on-three is a lot easier than five-on-five. I think we’ve done pretty well in the last couple of years, but you can always get better. That’s why we’re working on it.”
Monday’s practice will see some different situations as well, including six-on-five and five-on-six.
“We have to make sure going into these last two games that we’ve touched on everything we can,” Bowness said.
MISSING IN ACTION
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mason Appletonand Jansen Harkins did not participate in practice on Sunday.
Bowness wasn’t concerned, saying that if there was a regular season game instead of a practice, all three would have been available to play.
He expects them all on the ice on Monday.