Hextall on Hockey: is one preseason game enough?

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler talks with Mark Scheifele during Tuesday's practice. Global News

Usually, training camp leads into pre-season hockey — which doesn’t count for anything. Players have time to get up to game speed physically and mentally in preparation for Game 1 of 82.

But the paused/pandemic training camp has to have players and coaches ready to flip the switch to a playoff mentality immediately.

In order to get his Winnipeg Jets ready, coach Paul Maurice has designed training camp to have a theme and style each week to keep the players mentally engaged.

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From the players’ perspective, captain Blake Wheeler admitted they’re making it up as they go, as no single person has been through a process like this before.

Read more: Hextall on Hockey: NHL return to play — so far, so good?

As a team, the Jets’ goal is to be playing as close to full speed in Game 1 of the best-of-five qualifying series against Calgary.

In order to accomplish this, training camp has been a process that builds toward the grind, battle and compete level that comes with playoff hockey.

If the Jets are a team that can find their next level faster than the Flames, they should find success.

Winnipeg’s ability to flip the switch — not only skill-wise, but also mentally — is just as key as shutting down Flames snipers like Johnny Gaudreau.

I’m very intrigued to see how teams come out of the gate when the puck drops on Aug. 1. Selfishly, I hope every team does well and we can revamp training camp and the pre-season going forward.

The 2019-20 season saw the Jets play seven pre-season games. If the Jets and the other teams can be thrown into playoff hockey and have no issue competing after an abbreviated training camp and just one pre-season game to get NHL-ready to play 60 minutes that matter, I’ll be the first to start the petition to change the pre-season for the better.

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