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Lowry man in middle

Maurice puts rookie at centre in bid to spark unproductive offence

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The changes to the Winnipeg Jets' forward combinations were not surprising on Saturday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/10/2014 (2900 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The changes to the Winnipeg Jets’ forward combinations were not surprising on Saturday.

The extent to which head coach Paul Maurice was selling the key change — moving rookie Adam Lowry to centre — was fairly bold.

Certainly, Maurice is looking to spark a team that has been offensively challenged in the last three games, all losses. They have exactly one goal to show for those three outings as they turn a focus to tonight’s encounter at the MTS Centre against the Calgary Flames (6 p.m., Citytv, TSN 1290).

Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press files Rookie Adam Lowry (middle) is familiar with playing centre, having done it in the WHL and the AHL.

But Maurice sees beyond that crisis of the week.

“He understands that better,” the coach said of Lowry after Saturday’s short practice. “I also think that’s the future of our organization and him. He’s going to play centre ice sooner rather than later.”

Lowry, 21, has all of four games of NHL experience. He’s been on the left wing with centre Mathieu Perreault.

But Lowry, who now moves between T.J. Galiardi and Michael Frolik, was a centre for the previous two seasons, one as the WHL’s player of the year in Swift Current and the other as a rookie pro with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.

Prior to that, he said he was a left-winger all the time.

During the pre-season, the third-round pick of the 2011 draft said he liked both positions and the fact he knows both well is turning into an asset.

“I think it’s a good opportunity,” Lowry said. “I feel pretty comfortable down the middle. It will allow me to impact the game a little differently than on the wing.”

One way is to be taking faceoffs. Another is defensively.

“I can use my size down low against their bigger forwards,” he said. “And it’s going to allow me to keep my feet moving, kind of get in on the forecheck and in on pucks a little quicker.

“It’s nice to have played a couple of seasons at centre. I feel pretty comfortable at that position. I played a bit of it in exhibition, the whole Young Stars tournament at centre and one of the games in the pre-season at centre. It’s a position I feel comfortable at and I don’t think the transition will take too long.”

Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files Paul Maurice says Adam Lowry was destined to play centre sooner or later.

Maurice clearly did not see any spark with Perreault, Lowry and Chris Thorburn on Friday night when the Jets lost 2-0 at home to Nashville.

“I haven’t liked what we’ve seen off the line as it was structured so he (Lowry) does a lot of good things in the game. Some of the things that are just going to get better out of experience — the speed of the game, all those things, the decisions with the puck and how quick they have to be made.

“But the guy’s in the right spot for the most part all over the ice. He has a real quick read to all that and that’s a big part to playing centre ice. And the willingness to be under the puck and do the things we’re probably not getting throughout the lineup.

“I’d like to see him there… I know that’s where he’s going. If he can handle it now, I have no problem with a young man at centre ice. I’ve seen it before and it’s been done well. We’ll give him an opportunity there.”

Maurice spent some time talking to Lowry on the ice during Saturday’s practice.

“It was just to kind of go out there… it’s going to be a little different to play centre at the NHL level than it is wing,” the rookie said. “Just try to adjust as quick as you can, keep your feet moving and keep making plays at a high pace.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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