Stuart's return close
THESE are the kind of decisions any NHL coach may wrestle with publicly, but are absolutely ecstatic to have to make:
The Winnipeg Jets will soon have a healthy Mark Stuart again after he practised Friday with the club for the first time this month after suffering a hip injury.
"It was so much fun. It was just nice to get out there again with them," said Stuart. "You don't realize how much you miss it until you're out. I mean, I've been out before and know how hard it is, but until you get back out there you don't realize how much you missed it."
Stuart said the issue with the injury isn't so much getting his strength or endurance back, but making sure the hip is healed. He hasn't really tested it with contact yet, but will in the coming days.
"There's just a risk of coming back too early and then going back to Square One," said Stuart. "Pain-wise it isn't too bad."
Question now is: When Stuart is good to go again, who comes out of the lineup?
The Jets' top two pairings of Dustin Byfuglien-Grant Clitsome and Zach Bogosian-Toby Enstrom are set (although Bogosian did not leave the dressing room after the second intermission and did not play the third period against the Flyers) and the club has been getting decent work out of the third pairing of Adam Pardy and Keaton Ellerby. Zach Redmond has also been practising with the team, but has yet to see any game action since he recall from St. John's.
"You'd like get those guys into games, (Redmond) and (Anthony) Peluso as well," said Claude Noel. "Peluso's been OK, it's not that he's been on the downslide or anything like that. Guys are going and it's hard to change when guys are going this way. That's a good thing, but... I would like to get them in the lineup. That's just part of the lesson they have to learn -- when you do get it in, make an impact so you can stay in."
Stuart has been skating with Jacob Trouba, who has been out since mid-October after slamming headfirst into the end boards against St. Louis. Noel said Friday he hopes Trouba will be back practising with the team soon.
Who picked up the Czech?
JETS goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, good friends who grew up together in the Czech Republic, went out for dinner Thursday night. Voracek won the Bobby Clarke Trophy in 2013 as the Flyers' MVP and the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as the team's most-improved player, as voted on by his teammates.
Down on the farm
THE St. John's IceCaps fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Worcester Sharks in Newfoundland Friday night. Eddie Pasquale made his eighth straight start in goal for the IceCaps with Jason Jaffray and Jerome Samson scoring in regulation before nine attempts from each team in the shootout.
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