WINNIPEG — Win, lose or draw right now, new Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice voiced a vote of confidence today for the six defencemen he’s been using since he took over the job Jan. 12.
Maurice said today that his pairings of Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba and Keaton Ellerby-Adam Pardy are staying in the lineup for the foreseeable future.
And after hinting at it, later in the day the Jets assigned Paul Postma to St. John’s of the AHL on a conditioning assignment that can last up to 14 days.
Postma has been practising with the Jets for more than a week and has been cleared for action after missing three months with a blood clot in his leg.
Maurice also indicated earlier today that Zach Redmond, recalled from St. John’s in early January, could also see some more time in the AHL.
"Paul Postma is going to play some games for us in the American Hockey League," Maurice announced earlier today "I’d like at some point, because they’ve both been out for so long, to get them in some games.
"But like I said earlier, I’m comfortable with the way the six guys on our back end have been performing. You don’t want to get into a situation where one mistake and a guy comes out of the lineup.
"Playing defence is built on (the fact that) you’re going to make a handful of mistakes every night. You get better from them.
"I’d like to have those defencemen go and play so that when they get the chance, they’ll feel comfortable and be ready to go."
Postma would have to clear waivers to play with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, so it’s more likely he’ll be asked to take a conditioning assignment. That can last a maximum of two weeks and will have to take place before the upcoming Olympic break if it’s to happen.
Redmond, on a two-way contract, can be assigned to St. John's without waivers.
Coming off their 4-3 home-ice loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, most of the Jets took a day off the ice for a light workout and a meeting. Seven skaters and backup goalie Al Montoya skated for less than an hour.
Maurice also today batted down the idea that the Jets played "down to their opponent" on Tuesday night, saying both that the Predators are a hard-working, competitive team and that his own group left it all on the ice.
"There was no letdown last night," said Maurice, now 6-2 in charge of the Jets. "They weren’t running out of position, getting away from what they were trying to do, to break a game open. That’s what I’d seen in the past, a lot of routes that suggested at 1-0, everything changes, the offence, trading back and forth. And it wasn’t a lull where guys weren’t putting out what they had.
"Our execution wasn’t as good as it had been earlier but in terms of the compete, that is the one area, more than our defensive play, that excites me about that room.
"To have a team as young as our team learn to value that compete level is probably No. 1 is the hardest thing to do, hardest thing to get in your room. Especially with a young team."
Jets centre Olli Jokinen saw it the same way.
"I think we battled hard," Jokinen said. "Against any team in this league, everybody puts the fight in. We knew exactly what kind of game it’s going to be. It wasn’t any ... they didn’t catch us by surprise.
"They play a certain style but they have enough skill in their lineup, too, that they can make plays. It’s part of the game, the way it goes."
The head coach said today that Evander Kane was treated on Tuesday for the hand infection that will keep him out through the Olympic break.
"It went well," he said. "Everything finished the way we hoped."
The Jets, now 25-25-5, dropped back to 12th in the conference at 55 points and are now eight points behind the last playoff position, held by Friday’s visitors, the Vancouver Canucks.