Perreault’s long-term injury has ripple effect


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IT'S a juggling act-slash-tap dance the Winnipeg Jets have done before this season.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/02/2015 (2785 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

IT’S a juggling act-slash-tap dance the Winnipeg Jets have done before this season.

And now, they’ll be doing the same routine again from now until April with the news forward Mathieu Perreault will be out for the playoff push with a lower-body injury.

Jets coach Paul Maurice confirmed as much after practice Wednesday, adding forward Drew Stafford — who also exited Monday’s 5-4 win over Edmonton with an injury — could return to the lineup as soon as tonight’s game in Washington.

“Matty Perreault has got a significant lower-body injury, we would be hopeful he will be able to return by the end of regular season. If he does, it won’t be much sooner than that,” said Maurice. “Drew is day-to-day. He’ll take the morning skate in Washington and if he feels good, he’ll play.”

The two injuries up front caused a significant ripple effect at practice Wednesday. The Jets had Dustin Byfuglien at forward working with Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik and defenceman Paul Postma was also up front, strictly because the team needed bodies there.

Carl Klingberg has been called up from the St. John’s IceCaps and will join the team in Washington. Klingberg, 24, has 15 goals and 15 assists in 51 games with the IceCaps this year.

Perreault’s absence stings because he is third on the team in goals with 18 — matching a career high — and plays a significant role on the power play. He had been a key component on the Jets’ second line with Mark Scheifele and, lately, Blake Wheeler.

“The obvious parts (of where Perreault will be missed) is on the power play and some of his five-on five offence,” said Maurice. “But what I think he brings more than anything is the style of play, for not a big man. So, we’ve talked about being big and fast, but I don’t know if there’s another forward on our team that gets on the puck the way he does on the forecheck. He’s not running guys through the boards, but he does it our way, differently, because he’s not six-foot-four. He gets on that puck as well as any forward we have and he gets in on the forecheck and he creates offence off that intensity.

“We’ll miss that intensity level from him.”

Heading into Wednesday’s action, the Jets continued to hold down the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a 30-19-10 record and 70 points. Losing Perreault, possibly for the final 23 regular-season games, might put even more pressure on GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to make a deal before the March 2 trade deadline.

“I’ll coach the guys we have,” said Maurice, when asked if he expected another move. “I mean, you never like losing anybody long term, but we’ve survived it before with three or four guys going down long term. How long Dustin Byfuglien stays up… when Drew comes back I’ll have to make a decision if we have enough depth up front to drop Dustin back to the blueline and then we’ll see what happens.”

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson was not on the ice Wednesday, but skipped just for “maintenance.” The Jets also hope to have winger Matt Halischuk back in early March.

But the carpet to sick bay has been worn thin this year. The Jets have lost 127 man games to injury this year, including a stint in December when their top four defencemen were out.

“We’ve had to do it in different parts of the year,” said Blake Wheeler. “It’s just part of the game. Everyone’s going to lose guys to injuries. It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and take more responsibility.” Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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