Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/12/2015 (550 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There’s nothing quite like the morning after Christmas for a cold, hard slap of reality.
The house is a mess, the kids are once again on their worst behaviour and the Christmas cheer that had warmed your bones the previous couple of days has been replaced by the numbing cold of just another regular old Winnipeg winter morning.
Just when you’re thinking of throwing in the towel and climbing back into bed, your NHL team’s captain drives a shoulder into the face of your team’s best-performing player of late.
Christmas is over, Winnipeg.
And your underperforming hockey team is still a mess.
Whatever designs the Winnipeg Jets had of turning a three-day Christmas break into a fresh new start for their troubled season lasted less than an hour Saturday, as the Jets returned to the MTS Centre just long enough to see Mark Scheifele helped off the ice, leaving a trail of blood behind him.
Scheifele accidentally collided with Andrew Ladd midway through practice and went down hard.
And Scheifele stayed down as the Jets’ training staff tended to him before helping him — very slowly — from the ice.
The cut appeared to be the least of Scheifele’s problems, but it was the only thing head coach Paul Maurice wanted to talk about in detail after practice.
"Looks like a couple of stitches right now and we’ll give it some time and see how he’s feeling tomorrow. And other than that, I don’t have anything for you," Maurice told reporters.
Left unsaid, of course, is whether Scheifele suffered a concussion in the incident, something we won’t find out until Sunday when the Jets play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Jets cannot afford to be without Scheifele for any extended period.
He has four goals and five assists in the last nine games and has been arguably the Jets best player through a stretch that saw the club limp into the just-completed Christmas break with their season-worst record of two games under .500 at 15-17-2.
That record actually flatters a team that has won just two of their last 14 road games and which comes out of the Christmas break with the 29th ranked power play and 27th ranked penalty kill.
The Jets are last in the Central Division, third-last in the Western Conference and 24th in the 30-team NHL.
They’ve got one player in the top 30 in league scoring — Blake Wheeler (10th) — they were eight points out of a playoff spot heading into Saturday night and about the only thing they do lead the league in is penalties.
Something’s going to have to change — quickly and dramatically — if this team is going to avoid an outright free fall heading into a critical part of their schedule.
After Pittsburgh, the Jets host the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday before embarking on a five-game road trip that will take them to Arizona, San Jose, Anaheim, Nashville and Dallas.
There’s plenty of winnable games in the upcoming stretch: Pittsburgh, Arizona and Anaheim are each a mess right now and would be out of the playoffs if the season ended today. But the same can be said of Calgary and Edmonton — and the Jets just lost on back-to-back nights to the Flames and Oilers.
If you find yourself in a hole, the experts suggest the first thing you need to do is to stop digging — or, failing that, at least don’t hit your best player in the face with a shovel.
"It’s been urgent all year," Jets defenceman Mark Stuart observed Saturday.
"But coming back off this break, we’ve got to string some wins together.
"We need points. Badly."