Toby Enstrom's stay in sick bay has been extended. As a result, the Winnipeg Jets' push for a playoff spot will more than likely come without their gifted defenceman.
Enstrom suffered what appears to be a lower-back injury -- the club is calling it "mid-body" -- in last Tuesday's win over the Buffalo Sabres after taking a hit from Steve Ott. Originally, Enstrom was listed as day-to-day.
"We got him looked at... he's more than day-to-day. It looks like he'll be week-to-week," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "It's longer than we anticipated. It's still sore."
This is a movie the Jets have seen before with Enstrom. He missed 19 games earlier this season with a shoulder injury and Tuesday's game against Tampa will be their second straight without him on their current homestand. Overall, the Jets are 12-7-2 in games without Enstrom.
"It doesn't really (affect how he might coach going forward)," Noel said. "You've got your guys, and I don't deal with what we don't have. We've got a lot of options. We've got a fair amount of guys, 10 defencemen -- 11 with Toby -- that play different ways."
A silver lining to the Enstrom injury is how Grant Clitsome has picked up his game of late. In the current three-game win streak, he has two goals and is a plus-7 while paired with Dustin Byfuglien.
"He knows how Buff plays, so he directs his game around that a bit," Noel said of Clitsome. "He's done good with him and looks real comfortable there and it's been pretty much since Day 1 with him. Not all partners can play with each other, too, same as linemates. Sometimes it doesn't work.
"I don't know exactly what it is, but they've managed to go pretty good. We haven't really missed a beat with Clitsome there as his partner. And Toby's a hard guy to replace because he gives you some major play."
OPEN HOUSE: The Jets held a practice at the MTS Centre Sunday in front of about 2,500 fans who are on the season-ticket waiting list. The only players not on the ice were Enstrom, Nik Antropov and Jim Slater, all injured.
"It's nice to have an event like this for a lot of loyal fans that don't get the opportunity that a lot of people do," said captain Andrew Ladd. "To be able to experience practice and the (player) intro... hopefully they enjoyed it. There was a little more pressure in practice. It's always fun to have fans out and it makes things a little more interesting."
ROCK REPORT: The St. John's IceCaps announced their 2012-13 award winners Sunday. The MVP went to centre Eric O'Dell, who set new team single-season records with 28 goals and 52 points.
Derek Meech, with the Jets since late February, was named top defenceman. He played in 46 games with the IceCaps, led their D corps in scoring with 23 points (3G, 20A) and was the club's lone representative at the AHL All-Star Classic.
Defenceman Julian Melchiori was named top rookie. The Community Man of the Year award went to captain Jason Jaffray, who also took home the Fans Choice Award.
QUOTABLE: Here's Noel speaking of what he did Saturday on his one day away from the rink and his job:
"It was great. I didn't do anything. My wife drove, I sat in the passenger seat and vegged out. I went shopping... or I don't know what it's called -- hanging around with the wife, shopping, watching her shop. I was shopping, too."
PROSPECT WATCH: Jet draft pick Jordan Samuels-Thomas (seventh round, 2009) wrapped up his NCAA career with a thud. He and his Quinnipiac teammates advanced to the Frozen Four final before falling 4-0 to Yale. Samuels-Thomas, who transferred from Bowling Green, had 17 goals and 12 assists in 43 regular-season games this year.
HONESTY THE BEST POLICY: Forward Blake Wheeler, talking about the difference between the Jets coming home from a road trip in which they dropped all three games, to where they are now:
"We were worn out. Mentally and physically, we were a little bit beaten up. Losing will do that to you, but playing as much as we played and travelling as much as we travelled... we like to walk around and act tough and not make excuses, but I'm telling you what, it can take its toll. You're seeing the difference when you start to eliminate some of that travel a little bit."
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