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This article was published 6/3/2019 (518 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TAMPA — Kevin Hayes is still finding his way around a new locker room, with new teammates and new responsibilities. But the key trade deadline addition for the Winnipeg Jets had a bit of a homecoming this week when he got to see three former friends.
Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller and Dan Girardi all played with Hayes when they were members of the New York Rangers. McDonagh and Miller told the Free Press this week that Winnipeg got a good one in Hayes, who was swapped for a first round draft pick and Brendan Lemieux.
"He’s got a great attitude, wanting to be part of a winning team and wanting to make an impact. I think right off the bat I knew he was going to do whatever was asked of him and fit in well with the group there. Just try to get to the strength of his game. For him, he’s a big guy that skates really well. One of the more patient guys in the middle of the ice as far as waiting for plays to happen and not forcing things. He certainly has a knack for scoring goals around the net, too, and finding ways to contribute. I think he’s going to be a big pickup for this team," said McDonagh.
The Tampa defenceman, who was traded from New York at last season's deadline along with Miller, got to see Hayes' evolution as a player first-hand.
"Coming out of college for him, he was that go-to guy offensively and never really was depending upon to be in a defensive role or maybe penalty killing role. I think that was the biggest thing for me that I saw for him in those years in New York together, his willingness to learn and be coachable defensively," said McDonagh.
"He ended up being a huge penalty-killing player for us and kind of became that shutdown centremen for us at times and still found a way to contribute offensively for us and not lose that offensive side. I think he’s really taken it upon himself to be a two way player there and someone that can be a difference in a lot of areas."
Miller was one of the first to speak to Hayes last week after he was traded to Winnipeg and offered his good buddy some advice.
"A really good talented hockey player. He fits in great with that team. Just adds to their big powerful skillful players. He’s a big guy, skilled, he can play 200 feet on any situation. Great add for them," said Miller.
Hayes has one empty-net goal and two assists through his first four games with the Jets. He's been solid in the face-off circle, winning more than 55 per cent of his draws.
"The first game was a bit emotional. It was a long day of travel and not a lot of sleep and my bags didn’t show up. From there, it’s been pretty great. A great group of guys in here, a tight group, great leadership and a really good team. It’s a lot of fun to come to the rink and to get on the road too and play some good teams out east, where I’ve played my whole career. It’s always fun playing against friends," Hayes said prior to the Tampa game.
Did Laurent Brossoit do something to anger the hockey gods? It sure looks that way given the fact the Jets backup goalie has now been handed a pair of somewhat ridiculous losses this season.
Brossoit took the "L" on Tuesday night in Tampa after giving up one goal on two shots in 3:16 of ice time. Unfortunately for him, he was beaten for the Lightning's third goal of the night, which ended up being the winner in the 5-2 game.
Brossoit was minding his own business on the bench when starter Connor Hellebuyck took a hellacious shot to his mask courtesy of NHL leading scorer Nikita Kucherov. The shot dazed and cut Hellebuyck who had to go to the dressing room for repairs before he returned to action.
Tampa captain Steven Stamkos greeted an ice-cold Brossoit with a spectacular one-time blast to the top corner just 15 seconds later. Brossoit inherited a 2-1 deficit, and the Stamkos goal made it 3-1. Hellebuyck would be beaten two more times on the night, but Brossoit became the goalie "of record" when Jacob Trouba's dump-in attempt took a bizarre bounce off the glass and into the Lightning net in the late stages of the third period.
Had the score remained 5-1, it would have been Hellebuyck's loss.
A similar thing happened in November when Hellebuyck was pulled after giving up three early goals to the Calgary Flames. Brossoit entered midway through the first period, down 3-0, but was tagged with the loss in the eventual 6-3 defeat because the Jets once again scored just enough goals to make it "his" game.
The NHL rules are different from MLB, where the pitcher of record stays that way regardless of how many runs his team might score, provided they never end up tying the game.
Brossoit's official record this year is 11-5-2, but it's really more like 11-3-2 given the way things have gone down.
Adam Lowry will return to the Jets lineup Friday night in Raleigh after finishing up his two-game suspension. Now the question is who comes out?
The likely candidate would be newcomer Par Lindholm, who got into the lineup in Lowry's place. But coach Paul Maurice has liked what he's seen from the Swede, who was obtained in a swap with the Toronto Maple Leafs with Nic Petan going the other way.
Lindholm played 15 shifts for 9:39 in Tuesday's game, including some time on the penalty kill.
If not Lindholm, perhaps Jack Roslovic is the one to sit. The young forward has seen his role increasingly reduced in recent weeks, and he played a team-low 8:18 in Tampa on the fourth line with Lindholm and Mathieu Perreault.
Roslovic was named the NHL's first star of the week in early February after scoring five times in four games. At the time, he was on the top power play unit and the second line. Now, with the return of Nikolaj Ehlers from injury, the return of Patrik Laine to the main PP unit and the addition of some bodies at the trade deadline, Roslovic's spot in the lineup appears to be hanging by a thread.
We might get some hints on Thursday afternoon as the Jets hit the ice for practice in Raleigh ahead of Friday night's game with the Carolina Hurricanes.
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.
Updated on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at 8:07 PM CST: Updates headline
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