WEATHER ALERT

Maurice adds Dano to new Jets recipe in D.C.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Chris Thorburn is out, Marko Dano is in and Paul Maurice has the blender in overdrive as the Winnipeg Jets prepare to face the Washington Capitals Thursday for the second time in 48 hours.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/11/2016 (2277 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Chris Thorburn is out, Marko Dano is in and Paul Maurice has the blender in overdrive as the Winnipeg Jets prepare to face the Washington Capitals Thursday for the second time in 48 hours.

It was a challenge to make out the Jets’ line combinations initially during the team’s morning skate at Verizon Centre: rookie Patrik Laine with Adam Lowry and fellow Finn Joel Armia; Brandon Tanev joining Mathieu Perreault and Kyle Connor; Dano drawing on to the right side of a line with Andrew Copp at centre and Alex Burmistrov at left wing.

Only the Jets top line of Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler remains intact as Maurice continues to deal with a flurry of injuries and looks for a spark on a team that has scored just four goals in their last three games combined.

BILL ALKOFER / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER VIA AP Winnipeg Jets' Marko Dano celebrates his tying goal in the third period in an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Thorburn missed the pre-game workout for what Maurice described as “family reasons — and it’s positive.” The last time Maurice used that description to explain a player’s sudden absence, Dustin Byfuglien’s wife delivered a baby.

The Jets defensive pairings will be the same Thursday as they were in a 3-2 loss to the Capitals Tuesday night at MTS Centre: Josh Morrissey-Dustin Byfuglien; Toby Enstrom-Paul Postma; Ben Chiarot-Julian Melchiori.

Defenceman Mark Stuart, who’s been injured, skated with the team Thursday morning and could play again as early as Friday night in Detroit, Maurice said.

Michael Hutchinson is expected to start in net for the Jets after Connor Hellebuyck took the loss Tuesday night.

Both Copp and Dano have previous NHL experience, but will be making their season debuts for the Jets after spending the first month of the season with the Manitoba Moose.

Add those lineup changes to previous alterations brought on injuries, and a very young Winnipeg Jets team is even younger heading into the rematch with the Caps.

“We started with a young group and we’ve got six veterans out tonight,” Maurice said. “So we’ve got a young lineup. The pieces will probably move around a little bit.”

Moving Laine to a line with Lowry and Armia that has been regarded as the No. 3 group raised some eyebrows at the rink, but Maurice said the numbers suggest it could be a fit for the young sniper.

“Lowry and Armia have statistically generated the most five-on-five (scoring) opportunities. So Patty goes into that hole,” he said.

It’s the second time this season the Jets have played back-to-back games against the same opponent; they split a previous home-and-home set with the Dallas Stars. They play another home-and-home set at the end of November against Nashville and then will play twice in three days in Vancouver against the Canucks just before Christmas.

Those kinds of back-to-back matchups used to be a rarity in the NHL but both Maurice and his charges say they love them, even if familiarity can sometimes breed a little contempt.

“It’s a little more intense and a little bit tighter,” Chiarot said. “And sometimes it gets a little chippier — guys get sick of seeing each other. Tonight should be a fun game to watch.”

And Maurice? “I love the back-to-backs with the same team, especially if you can get it in the same division for rivalries…The guys get into a better rhythm — I think it’s good for the game.”

Chiarot said he would take a repeat of the way his team played Tuesday night in the loss to Washington, which saw the Jets score twice late in the third period to tie the game only to give up the winner in the final minute.

“I thought we defended really well against a team that is offensively gifted and you saw the shots we had,” he said, referencing a 45-shot barrage directed at Caps netminder Braden Holtby. “Offensively we were getting our chances too, and it’s just a matter of capitalizing.

“If we play like that every night we have a chance to win.”

email: paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.

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