Versatile Lowry shines

Rookie forward making bold claim for regular work in NHL

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- He walks like a National Hockey Leaguer. Talks like one, too. And with every turn on the ice Adam Lowry is winning over the person that matters most in determining whether he is actually big-league ready.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/09/2014 (3053 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — He walks like a National Hockey Leaguer. Talks like one, too. And with every turn on the ice Adam Lowry is winning over the person that matters most in determining whether he is actually big-league ready.

And that would be Paul Maurice.

“I liked him,” said the Jets coach after Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. “I liked a lot of things that he does that you don’t have to teach as a coach. To get somebody at that age that has a lot of the defensive instincts that he has… he’s got such a great stick for knocking pucks down and getting them to the right place. He’s clearly not shy of the heavy areas and that puck’s in the net because he’s screening the goalie with his size and his frame.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Rookie forward Adam Lowry put in another solid performance Saturday.

“There’s a lot about his game that I think is very advanced for a man of his age.”

Lowry’s game has a lot of layers that might not show up in the black and white of the stats sheet, but don’t go unnoticed by coaches and managers. He drew an assist on Grant Clitsome’s goal early in the third period that tied the game at 3-3 by battling in the corner to feed Blake Wheeler, who then threw it to the blue-line. But it was Lowry moving to the front of the net that was critical in screening Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

He’s now played in all three pre-season games, two as a centre and Saturday night at left wing, where he played until his final year at junior. And that versatility might ultimately be one of the key factors in keeping him in Winnipeg.

“You’re always looking for guys on the wing that can slide into centre,” said Maurice. “That’s an important piece we’re looking for. I think eventually he goes to centre, but I think he can play well and be very effective on the wing to start his career.

“And then when that spot opens up for him he may very well grab it and not give it back.”

The Jets have some contenders for the vacant left wing spot on their third line and Lowry is certainly in that mix. But his size — 6-5, 201 — is critical in a Western Conference filled with big bodies and his effectiveness on the penalty kill and defensive awareness are big-time pluses.

And don’t think that wasn’t part of the decision to take a look at him on the wing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler Saturday night.

“It’s exciting to be in those types of games where you’re playing against NHL talent,” said Lowry. “It’s a good measuring stick and I think I did OK.

“Going back and forth (between centre and the wing) there are some systems changes, but being able to play both is important to me. It’s not that big a difference, especially playing with those guys because they make the game a whole lot easier. Wheels has the puck on his stick for long stretches of time and if there ever is a mistake they’re such great skaters that they’re able to get back and fix it.

CP Ann Heisenfelt / the associated press Jets centre Mark Scheifele (55) plays keep away with Wild left-winger Zach Parise during first-period action Saturday night.

“I don’t mind playing the left side. I enjoy it. I think it’s a good opportunity for me. Any time you can get into as many games as you can, especially early on, it gives you a chance to leave a lasting impression and I think that’s where a lot of success is going to come from; gaining confidence in these early games and carryg it forward through camp.”

T.J. OK: The Jets provided an update Saturday on the eye injury suffered by winger T.J. Galiardi, who left practice Friday after taking a puck in the eye. Galiardi had laser surgery to repair some damage and will be out at least a week.

“It’s good news,” said Paul Maurice. “I saw it happen on the ice and it’s just the sickest feeling in the world, because you know what it feels like. You know sometimes even the most-innocent-looking clip like that can be career-ending. So we got great news (Friday) afternoon and then a really good followup (Saturday) morning. Our fingers are crossed, but we’re quite positive about the outcome of this.”

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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