Poolman joins Jets on the road

With Enstrom injured, Manitoba Moose young gun gets called up

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Tucker Poolman was just getting ready for a matinee game with the Manitoba Moose when his phone rang on Sunday morning, indicating a slight change of plans.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/11/2017 (1833 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Tucker Poolman was just getting ready for a matinee game with the Manitoba Moose when his phone rang on Sunday morning, indicating a slight change of plans.

And just like that, the rookie defenceman was back in the National Hockey League.

“You just got to be ready for a new chance, just be ready for the team,” Poolman said a few hours later, as he prepared to join the Winnipeg Jets (12-4-3) on a tough four-game road trip, which begins tonight in Nashville.

DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES "You just got to be ready for a new chance, just be ready for the team," Winnipeg Jets' Tucker Poolman said.

Veteran blueliner Toby Enstrom could miss up to two months of action after getting hurt in Saturday’s game against New Jersey. The 33-year-old has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, opening up a spot for Poolman.

Enstrom got tangled with Devils forward Jesper Bratt during the second period of Winnipeg’s 5-2 win and went down in pain. He had to be helped off the ice and wasn’t putting any pressure on his right leg.

“It’s tough to lose guys, important guys to your team. Unfortunately, it’s part of what we do for a living. It’s going to happen (and) it’s an opportunity for guys to step up,” captain Blake Wheeler said on Sunday.

“We obviously have a good thing going. You want those guys to come in and make a seamless transition. Guys that have been chomping at the bit to get back in, so there will be a lot of excitement for them.”

Enstrom, who is in the final year of his contract and set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, has two assists in 19 games this season while averaging just over 16 minutes of action per game. He had primarily been playing with Dustin Byfuglien.

Poolman, 24, dressed for three games with the Jets earlier this season and was held off the scoresheet. He’s played seven games with the Moose, recording one assist. Whether it’s Poolman or Ben Chiarot who immediately draws into the lineup remains to be seen.

“Obviously, injuries happen. We saw the tough end of that last year. You just have to adapt. You can’t replace Toby’s experience and what he brings. But at the same time, other guys have to step up. Benny or Poolsy or whoever gets into that spot. They’re great players as well,” defenceman Josh Morrissey said on Sunday. “Like I said, the other guys, we just have to step up and take over some of those minutes Toby plays, and hope that Toby recovers soon and gets healthy as fast as possible.”

Winnipeg comes into tonight’s contest having won four consecutive games and with a perfect 4-0-0 record within the Central Division.

This will be the first of five meetings with Nashville, who made it to the Stanley Cup finals last year and are off to another strong start at 11-6-2, including 6-1-1 at home.

“Our focus is on Nashville. We’ll take each game as they come. It’s kind of what we’ve been doing all year. It’s always a real difficult building, no matter what,” Wheeler said. “Obviously, they made it to the finals last year and are carrying a lot of momentum from that into this year. It’s always tough going into that building, and we’re excited for that challenge.”

The Jets have collected points in 15 of their last 17 games (12-2-3), after starting the year 0-2-0. Perhaps most promising is they’re rolling four lines, all capable of scoring. For example, the so-called fourth line of Mathieu Perreault, Joel Armia and Matt Hendricks combined for six points on Saturday.

“We still know there’s growth to be had and not every game is perfect. We still have a lot of things to work on. That’s promising. We have to continue to focus on our game, focus on getting better as a team, knowing if we keep that going, we will be fine,” centre Mark Scheifele said on Sunday.

“We need every line to be playing the same way, the simple way. When it’s one line’s night, it’s their night. That’s how we’re going to win games.”

After playing in the Music City, Winnipeg faces three more powerful teams in Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose before heading home.

“Well it’s a huge trip, obviously. You look at where the teams are that we’re playing. In the standings, they’re all tough teams. For us, obviously Nashville is a divisional team. It’s a big game any time you’re playing those ones,” Morrissey said.

“It’s going to be a big trip for us. We obviously want to start it off the right way. It’s going to be fun, the games are going to be intense, exciting. We have to be ready to go.”

Morrissey admitted he’s been glancing at the standings, which show the Jets sitting second in the Western Conference, trailing the St. Louis Blues.

“After every game that we play, after every off-night that we’re not playing, I’m looking to see how other teams are doing, where the standings are, how teams are trending at the time,” Morrissey said.

“Obviously, points now are just as important as points at the end of the year.”

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

History

Updated on Sunday, November 19, 2017 9:42 PM CST: Story edited

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