Wheeler skates with Jets, eyes return
The Winnipeg Jets are expected to have captain Blake Wheeler back in the lineup Thursday as they look to close the gap on the Toronto Maple Leafs for first in the North Division.
Wheeler, sidelined since April 5 with a concussion, spent practice on Tuesday and Wednesday on a line with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor. He was first cleared to return on Saturday.
"He's back right, and maybe then some, from where he left off," head coach Paul Maurice said Wednesday, per NHL.com. "He looks good, he looks strong. He's back. A big, strong, powerful forechecker that can make plays. We're more dynamic off the rush a little bit, but we're usually more physically intense in the offensive zone. He's a big, powerful man."
The 34-year-old, who has 10 goals and 32 points in 39 games this season, revealed Wednesday he has played through a injury throughout the season, but is now back to full health.
"I'm just happy to be feeling good, feeling like myself," Wheeler said. "From a personal standpoint I'm just looking to be firing on all cylinders by the end of the season, playing my hockey, our team playing our best hockey. I'm looking forward to these (final 11) games (of the regular season) being the first time being healthy all year, 100 per cent."
The Jets enter Thursday's game just four points back of the Maple Leafs for the top spot in the division, with a game in hand.