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Jets host Coyotes, look ahead to Scheifele's return

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.

"I'm feeling good right now," he told The Winnipeg Free Press. "It's nice to get some bumps in and be feeling good from it. I'm happy with my progress."

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 awkwardly against the Edmonton Oilers at the end of December.

"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."

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.

So, with only 10 healthy forwards, the Jets moved defenseman Tucker Poolman up to the wing in practice on Monday and recalled Brendan Lemieux and Nic Petan from the Manitoba Moose.

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 told the Los Angeles Times.

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.

The Jets could also make a big move post-trade deadline, when No. 1 defenseman Jacob Trouba is expected back from an ankle injury.

Updated February 5, 2018

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