Injuries force coach’s hand

Not the roster Jets’ Maurice expected near pre-season’s end

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Paul Maurice’s plan for the Winnipeg Jets’ pre-season went off the rails Tuesday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/09/2014 (3050 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Paul Maurice’s plan for the Winnipeg Jets’ pre-season went off the rails Tuesday.

He had planned to use the team’s final three exhibition games this week as mostly a tuneup for his regular lineup, but was strapped for Tuesday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators because of the growing rash of minor injuries.

The Jets had nine injured or recently injured players who required condition updates on Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) trips over Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson (41) as he gets checked out of the creese by Aaron Johnson (72) during third period pre-season NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday.

They are:

• Left-winger T.J. Galiardi, out for a week after laser eye surgery;

• Right-winger Dustin Byfuglien, still out with a minor, lower-body issue. “He’s getting better every day,” the coach said. “We’re just waiting for it, to get a real strong sense of it.”

• Left-winger Eric Tangradi, day-to-day; suffered a minor lower-body injury Monday night;

• Centre Patrice Cormier, day-to-day; has no damage after taking a high stick on Monday;

• Centre Eric O’Dell, has been out a week with an unspecified injury. “He’s closing in getting on the ice,” Maurice said;

• Defenceman Paul Postma skated Tuesday morning but hasn’t played yet. “It’s a matter of strength,” the coach said. “These are all kinds of minor muscle issues that we’re waiting for them to feel good.”

• Centre Bryan Little; day-to-day with bumps and bruises; skated Tuesday, didn’t play Tuesday;

• Left-winger Andrew Ladd: also out with minor issues, also didn’t skate Tuesday;

• Left-winger Evander Kane; missed several days late last week, was in the lineup Tuesday.

Maurice said Tuesday he hopes the plan will be back on track for Thursday’s pre-season game in Calgary.

“We’re hoping that our health says we’re pretty close to our lineup for the last two games,” Maurice said. “I thought I’d have a little older lineup, little more veteran lineup here tonight. Knew we were going to be real young — the first four were kind of how we thought we were going to be.

“But we’ll be pretty thick with our team with the next two.”

The Jets close the pre-season with a home game against Calgary on Saturday.

The coach also said Tuesday he believes Byfuglien, who played two periods of the first exhibition game but hasn’t been on the ice since, is not in jeopardy of missing next week’s season-opener in Arizona.

“O’Dell (maybe). We’ll see how far he comes along. A bunch of these you just project out. T.J., if he’s right at the end of this shutdown period, then he just goes full.

“So no, I don’t think there’s anybody here. We’re in that stretch of games now where we’ve got so many guys out you’ve got to be even a little more protective than you would be. If we were talking about regular season, I think four of these guys play tonight.

“But we’re not and we’re sitting in that eight and nine guys, you’ve got to make sure on the back-to-back nights, we’re a little more protective on certain guys.

“It’s about health, putting healthy bodies in the lineup and feeling very comfortable with tonight’s game, that the opportunity’s been given. And some of it wasn’t part of the grand design.”

The road back from his off-season hip surgery has been a challenge, Jim Slater admitted Tuesday, but it’s looking pretty good.

Slater scored his first goal of the pre-season Tuesday night against the Sens, in his second outing. He first played Saturday in Minnesota after a vigorous rehab and training program after his May surgery.

“You put in a lot of time to get in shape and you play that first game and you feel like you didn’t do anything all summer,” Slater said.

“It comes back, just a little slower than you’d like. But that’s why you have these pre-season games. Obviously we’re running a new system, and we’re trying to get that down so it’s comes natural.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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