Perreault’s status uncertain; Enstrom will play tonight
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/04/2015 (2794 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mathieu Perreault made an appearance on the Honda Center ice with the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday, but it wasn’t for the full team practice.
Jets coach Paul Maurice isn’t ruling him out for tonight’s Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks.
“He’ll be a game-time decision for tomorrow,” Maurice said.
Perreault, who had to leave last Thursday’s game in Colorado, did not play last Saturday at home against Calgary and had missed practices in Winnipeg on Monday and Tuesday because of a lower-body injury.
Jiri Tlusty was in his place alongside centre Adam Lowry and right-winger Lee Stempniak on Wednesday.
Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom did not practise Wednesday but the coach said it was nothing unusual and that Enstrom will be in Game 1.
“We have a schedule, a routing and three days of practice is highly unusual for us,” Maurice said. “So we picked our days for certain guys.”
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The Jets finished the season with the most times shorthanded per game, 308.
Their late improvement in this category didn’t translate to the NHL rankings of times shorthanded, but consider this. In the team’s first 60 games of the season, ending with a debacle in Washington, Winnipeg was short-handed an average of 4.1 times per game.
Over the last 22 games, the Jets reduced that to 2.7 times per game. The league overall average is about 3.1 per game.
Jets coach Paul Maurice pointed to a Jan. 31 game against Dallas, a 5-2 loss, that woke his team up in this department.
“From that point on, I wouldn’t necessarily say a harder push but I think we embraced as a group that we needed to be a more disciplined team and give ourselves an opportunity to have good relationships with the referees,” Maurice said. “We’re a very wired bunch during the game and I don’t think that helped us.
“I felt that Dallas game was the turn for us. You can blame who you want but at the end of the day, we went into a scrum and it didn’t look like anything happened and we came out down five-on-three and you can’t sustain that.
“Especially in the last month, we’ve been a very disciplined team. And it will have to continue.”
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Given that most playoff series contain lots of hitting, it’s entirely possible this one could degenerate into one with lots of penalties.
The Ducks know the Jets’ history in this matter, but they didn’t sound all that eager to get into this kind of muddy game.
“We’d rather play five-on-five ourselves,” said veteran Anaheim defenceman François Beauchemin, who suits up for his 82nd Stanley Cup playoff game tonight. “Power plays and penalty kills are always a big factor in the playoffs and we struggled with our PP this year. Hopefully it’ll be better in the post-season.
“But we’re aware of numbers and it’s a new season and we have to dig deep and capitalize when we have the chance.”
Beauchemin chuckled when asked the last time he played in a series that wasn’t physical.
“I can’t remember one,” he said. “It’s been a few years for sure. I mean, every year, you see teams winning and they’re always big and strong.
“That’s what it takes and that’s how we hope to play.”
He didn’t rule out hoping that the Ducks will draw the Jets into penalties.
“That’s the key to anybody,” he said. “Talk to anybody. You want to work hard and make them take penalties. That’s the game of hockey.”
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As for the pre-series hype, it’s safe to say the teams are embracing it, even hoping it will come true.
“If you’re not exhausted at the end of the night, you haven’t worked hard enough,” Beauchemin said.
Jets coach Paul Maurice had even more anticipation.
“The first 10 minutes tomorrow night are going to be very interesting,” Maurice said. “With all the things we’ve talked about here, the pressure, the excitement, the newness of players, two teams that haven’t seen each other, we’re still figuring out how we all fit together
“It’ll be exciting. You don’t want to show up late.”