Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stuart brings grit back to blue-line

Out two games, D-Man usual steady self

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NEW YORK -- He'll never have the skill set of a Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara or Drew Doughty.

But Mark Stuart is a valuable member of the Winnipeg Jets for what he brings in the grit and leadership department. And his presence was welcomed back eagerly by the club in Sunday night's 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers. Stuart had missed the last two games with an assortment of hurts, the most painful a leg injury that him hobbling over the last few days.

"I felt OK. I mean, any time you take a few days off it's kinda hard," Stuart said. "I didn't feel 100 per cent as far as making plays and stuff like that, but... OK, I would say. It doesn't hurt as much when I skate as walking.

"It's been a positive trip so far, but this next game is absolutely huge. It's so much better going home with a win. You kind of have that bittersweet if you don't get a win. It's been pretty good so far, but this next game is the biggest one by far."

Stuart logged 18 minutes and five seconds of ice time against the Rangers, played his usual steady game while blocking four more shots.

"I thought Stu played really well for a guy who hadn't played a lot of minutes or been on the ice very much as of late," said head coach Claude Noel. "I thought he looked comfortable. I really liked his game."

FOUR STRAIGHT: The win was the fourth in a row for the Rangers, who are now 7-3-3.

"I think the team is playing with a lot of confidence now. To get four straight wins, to finish this homestand with two points, is huge for us," said Rangers winger Marian Gaborik.

HIGH PRAISE: "He's enabled us to win games, whether it's on the penalty kill or five on five. He keeps us in the game. For us, he really gives us a chance and that's why our road trip has been so good of late." -- Jets head coach Claude Noel on goaltender Ondrej Pavelec

MORE RETORTS FROM 'TORTS': He had a 16-second post-game media session after a loss in Edmonton earlier this year and followed it up with a quick and cold series of responses prior to a win in Winnipeg on. Oct. 24. And it would seem Rangers' head coach John Tortorella was up to his old shtick in New York the other day when asked about the arrival of new defenceman Anton Stralman.

Reporter: "What does Stralman bring to the club?"

Torortella: "Who?"

Reporter: "Your new defenceman."

Tortorella: "No idea."

Reporter: Do you have any idea when he'll be available?"

Tortorella: "No idea."

Reporter: "Any other news on Rupp?"

Tortorella: "Nope."

Reporter: "Is he on IR?"

Tortorella: "I have no idea."

Reporter: "How about Wolski's MRI from yesterday?"

Tortorella: "I have no idea."

Reporter: "Let's try this one: Do you know what line Sean (Avery) is going to start on?"

Tortorella: "No idea."

Reporter: "What's your mom's birthday?"

Tortorella: "I have no idea."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2011 C2

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