Maurice bumps Perreault to top line

Coach seeks balance in offensive attack

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ST. LOUIS -- It was the afternoon following the long night before and Paul Maurice was in a mood for change.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/11/2015 (2568 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ST. LOUIS — It was the afternoon following the long night before and Paul Maurice was in a mood for change.

A day after his team found a new low in a 7-0 loss to the Nashville Predators in Nashville, the Winnipeg Jets head coach juggled his top lines and his defensive pairings at practice Sunday afternoon as Maurice looks for something — anything — to snap his team out of its current funk.

The Jets have lost five games in a row and are 0-3 on this four-game road trip, with one last stop against the St. Louis Blues before they head home.

Against that backdrop, the only thing that would have been surprising would have been if Maurice had made no changes at all to his lineup at practice. Maurice did not disappoint — he swapped left-wingers on his top two lines and also had Adam Pardy practising on a defensive pairing with Dustin Byfuglien.

If Pardy plays against the Blues — and Maurice wasn’t committing to anything — it would be his fourth game this season and his first action since Oct. 18.

“It’s tough sitting there watching games — it’s been a long time,” Pardy said after practice. “And as time goes by, you’re champing at the bit and you want to get in. And you see all your buddies out there working their tails off and especially when you’re watching them lose games, it’s really tough to be out and not being able to do anything about that.

“So I’m looking forward to getting in there tomorrow night and doing the things that I do and try to shake that month off pretty quick and get back to that game that we need to be in.”

While Pardy says he’s playing against the Blues, Maurice was saying no such thing Sunday. “I haven’t set my lineup yet — I will set that (today),” said Maurice.

The other two defensive pairings Sunday remained the same as they were in Nashville — Toby Enstrom with Tyler Myers and Mark Stuart with Jacob Trouba.

The odd man out at practice was Ben Chiarot, who would be a healthy scratch for the second time in less than a week if he sits out today to make room for Pardy.

Chiarot also sat out two games when Paul Postma played against Philadelphia Nov. 7 and last Tuesday against Minnesota. Chiarot drew back into the lineup for the last two games when Postma had a disastrous outing against the Wild.

Meanwhile, the move to swap left-wingers on the top two lines — Maurice had Mathieu Perreault practising with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, while Andrew Ladd worked with Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers — is an intriguing move by Maurice.

The only line that’s been producing through this losing streak — at least until the Nashville debacle — had been the Ladd-Little-Wheeler line. Indeed, coming into the Nashville game, they had combined for 49 points this season, which ranked them third in the league behind the Patrick Kane line in Chicago and the Tyler Seguin line in Dallas.

That’s some pretty elite company. If there are risks associated with breaking up your only productive line, they are more than offset, says Maurice, by the need to get some balance back in his offensive attack and to just generally reignite the pilot light in his struggling team.

“There’s nothing specific…,” said Maurice. “I’m not looking to make a change in the lines to right what happened to us (Saturday) night. To me, it’s not a function of the chemistry on the lines. I’m looking for all our guys up front to manufacture some confidence and to make plays when they see them to be made.

“And if not, let’s get the puck in and get in on the forecheck with some speed. And then I’m looking for us to handle the things that go away from you over the course of a game. In every game you play, there’s stretches you don’t like. And you need to be able to handle that and bounce back.”

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.

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