Chiarot all meat and potatoes

Don't expect fancy frills from young blue-liner

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Some defencemen dream of an end-to-end rush that culminates with a toe-drag-to-top-shelf, highlight-of-the-night, game-winning goal that would leave Bobby Orr, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and the like whistling in appreciation.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/09/2014 (2999 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Some defencemen dream of an end-to-end rush that culminates with a toe-drag-to-top-shelf, highlight-of-the-night, game-winning goal that would leave Bobby Orr, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and the like whistling in appreciation.

And Ben Chiarot? The Winnipeg Jets defensive prospect would simply like to get a pat on the back and a “Good game, partner” from coaches Paul Maurice, Charlie Huddy and Keith McCambridge.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS mike deal / winnipeg free press Some defencemen dream of spectacular end-to-end rushes. Jets hopeful Ben Chiarot dreams of a kind word from the coach.

That, of course, and the opportunity to remain in Winnipeg when the real games begin in a couple of weeks.

“If I’m a plus player. If I didn’t get scored on, if I’m playing physical and made it hard for the other team’s forwards then I’ve done my job,” said Chiarot Sunday when asked what would constitute a good night’s work.

“Anything on top of that is sprinkles on top of the ice cream.”

Chiarot figures to be in the mix for a spot in the third pairing or as a depth guy with the Jets. Named the St. John’s IceCaps top defenceman last season, the 6-3, 222-pound Hamilton product offers the Jets some size and a little bit of offensive pop (six goals, 20 points in 65 regular-season games).

“One of the things that is pretty important for me is playing physical,” said Chiarot. “That’s something, especially with this organization, where there aren’t too many overly-physical guys. There’s (Mark) Stuart and Bogo (Zach Bogosian) and a couple of guys, but for the most part it’s all puck-moving offensive defencemen. Playing physical, playing hard in my own end is going to be key for me to stand out more.

“In the playoffs in St. John’s the intensity level was really high. That type of intensity I feel is like what everyday life in the NHL is going to be. If I could carry that intensity over and do the things I was doing in the playoffs, that would give me the best chance of sticking around here every day.”

Chiarot made his NHL debut last November in a 5-1 loss to Chicago. He was a minus-3 and admits “the game didn’t go great.”

But he finished the regular season on a call-up with the Jets and that helped him immensely in feeling he belonged — a vibe that has carried over into camp this year.

“It was important just to get comfortable with the guys,” said Chiarot. “That helped, so that you weren’t feeling so jittery in practice. Things that feel no problem when you’re in St. John’s… when you get called up, just making that 10-foot pass can put you on edge and nervous.

“Feeling comfortable takes time. The coaches having confidence in you takes some time. That’s when your game can really come through and that’s what’s important if you want to stick in the NHL for a long time — guys believing in you and giving you a chance.”

‘One of the things that is pretty important for me is playing physical… Playing physical, playing hard in my own end is going to be key for me to stand out more’

— Jets defence prospect Ben Chiarot

READ INTO THIS: Maurice was busy praising Nik Ehlers, Adam Lowry and Nic Petan on Sunday when he realized he shouldn’t gush only about three of the Jets’ young prospects. Several others have had their moments, too.

“I want to be careful about saying what I just said,” said Maurice, “because there’s a fourth name there that I didn’t mention and he’s going to read this and go, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t make the list.’ So, put in other guys, too, I just didn’t want to be here talking all day.”

The Jets will start Ondrej Pavelec in goal and he’ll split time with Michael Hutchinson. As the pre-season unfolds, Maurice will give his goaltenders complete games to help them get into a groove.

For what it’s worth, the squad that faces the Wild today had lines featuring Bryan Little between Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien; Mathieu Perreault centring Ehlers and Chris Thorburn; Adam Lowry with Petan and Michael Frolik and John Albert with Anthony Peluso, Ryan Olsen and Carl Klingberg. The defence pairings had Bogosian with Toby Enstrom, Josh Morrissey with Keaton Ellerby, Nelson Nogier with Julien Brouillette and Chiarot with Brenden Kichton. One of those pairings won’t dress.

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

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