Enstrom’s return will bolster blue line


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Toby Enstrom is on the verge of returning to the Winnipeg Jets lineup.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/01/2018 (1676 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Toby Enstrom is on the verge of returning to the Winnipeg Jets lineup.

The veteran defencemen shed his non-contact jersey during practice Thursday, and was a full participant in drills. While he won’t be on the ice tonight when the Jets host the Buffalo Sabres, head coach Paul Maurice said he’s a possibility as early as Sunday when Winnipeg takes on the San Jose Sharks.

Enstrom, 33, has missed 22 games with a lower-body injury suffered during a Nov. 18 game. He has no goals and two assists so far this season.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Winnipeg Jets' defenceman Toby Enstrom has missed 22 games this season with a lower body injury and could return to action as early as Sunday in the team's game against the San Jose Sharks.

Enstrom will likely assume his regular spot on a pairing with Dustin Byfuglien, which would push Ben Chiarot to the press box.

The Jets are also carrying an extra defenceman in rookie Tucker Poolman, who could be returned to the Manitoba Moose barring any other injuries on the blue line.

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Four members of the Moose were named all-stars Thursday by the American Hockey League.

Goalie Michael Hutchinson, forward Jack Roslovic, defenceman Cam Schilling and head coach Pascal Vincent will be part of the Central Division’s team, which will compete in a three-on-three tournament against the other three divisions in the league.

Roslovic’s status may be in doubt, given he’s currently with the Jets. While he has yet to get in a game, that day may soon be coming.

Both Shawn Matthias and Marko Dano have recently come into the lineup with injuries to Mark Scheifele and Brandon Tanev, but Maurice said Thursday the situation remains fluid.

“There’s pressure on those two guys right now to perform well, because Roslovic can go in the lineup. He’s practised the way I want him to practise,” Maurice said.

“It won’t be, ‘Hey, let’s get him in and see how he plays.’ I’m not looking to do anybody any favours here. Matthias and Dano each scored in their first shift (since returning to the lineup), that’s great. But the quality of play has to be there. And it doesn’t have to slip much where you’re saying, ‘OK, this other guy is practising real well, can skate and move the puck, let’s look at him.’ Not as development or feeling good, but because maybe he gives us a little bit better chance to win.”

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One change Maurice isn’t about to make is to his goaltending. That means veteran Steve Mason is likely going to sit a while longer waiting for his next chance to start over the red-hot Connor Hellebuyck.

Maurice said Thursday he does “have a game for him” in mind between now and the NHL all-star break towards the end of the month. The Jets have nine games left until then, including back-to-back contests in Chicago and Minnesota, next Friday and Saturday.

“I want to get Steve in, I’ve got lots of faith in this guy as a goalie. I think he’s going to win us hockey games,” Maurice said. “But I’m just as concerned about making sure that Connor gets enough work.”

Mason has started in 10 of Winnipeg’s first 41 games this year, with the last one coming Dec. 23.

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.

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