Ehlers played final game on fractured leg

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PAUL Maurice had a couple of healthy wingers at his disposal for a do-or-die game on Saturday night in St. Louis — but left them in the press box in favour of a guy with a fractured leg bone.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/04/2019 (1203 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

PAUL Maurice had a couple of healthy wingers at his disposal for a do-or-die game on Saturday night in St. Louis — but left them in the press box in favour of a guy with a fractured leg bone.

A guy with no points in the first five games of the best-of-seven NHL series. A guy with no goals in 20 previous post-season games.

Yet, Nikolaj Ehlers was deemed the Jets’ best option against the Blues in Game 6, ahead of Mason Appleton and Par Lindholm, both of whom participated in the pre-game warm-up at Enterprise Center.

Jeff Roberson / The Associated Press Files Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers played Saturday’s Game 6 with a fractured leg.

Maurice said on Monday he doesn’t regret the decision to go with the shifty forward even in less-than-optimal condition, noting it’s not that uncommon during the playoffs.

“First of all, there’s the spectrum of the broken leg: the compound fracture where the bone is hanging out the leg, and a micro-fracture on an MRI or a CT machine. If I took guys out that did it, we would have a fair number of players playing with that. Dustin Byfuglien, that was his second injury (of the year) that he dealt with,” Maurice said.

“What we would do in that case is say, ‘Nikky, do you think you can play?’ They freeze those things and some of them freeze really well. Brandon Tanev broke the top half of his finger right off to the point they couldn’t put it back together until they put a screw in it, and he missed a game. It’s these things these guys play with. And Nikky took warm-up after that and said, ‘Yeah, I’m good, I’m ready to play.’

“Then he plays. I had two other guys in warm-up just in case he didn’t. So, I got no problem with playing Nikky.”

Ehlers sustained the injury blocking a shot from defenceman Colton Parayko in Game 5 in Winnipeg on Thursday. His injury does not require off-season surgery.

“It did not feel great. We tried a lot of things to make it feel a little better. For me, it’s part of it. Everyone’s playing with injuries and I didn’t want to sit out, I wanted to play,” Ehlers told reporters as the Jets met with the media for the final time this season.

“I wanted to help this team. I don’t know what could have happened if we won that game, but I wanted to play and they told me I could.”

Maurice said the 23-year-old from Denmark has shown in the past he’s got a high threshold for pain.

“You build your memory bank of what you can deal with in these situations,” he said. “His library of ‘what I can play with’ is fairly high. We’ve got doctors that will keep anybody out that shouldn’t play. I’ve got no problem putting Nik Ehlers in that game. He wanted to be in that game. It didn’t hurt when he was playing. It was going to hurt like hell the next day. Some guys run two months of that.”

Several key members — Tanev, Patrik Laine and Josh Morrissey — played through legitimate, diagnosed pain as well, while others likely had the usual bumps and bruises of an 82-game schedule and gruelling six-game playoff series.

Tanev competed in the final five games of the series with a surgically repaired finger. He was slashed on the hand by Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal on April 2, missed a pair of road games to end the regular season and was scratched for the playoff opener in Winnipeg on April 10.

Laine admitted a bad back he’s been hampered by the past two seasons has been acting up recently. Then, he suffered a groin injury in Game 5.

“I’ve had (the back problem) the past couple of years. Last year in the playoffs, I didn’t really (take game-day skates) because I couldn’t. Kind of same thing started again this year. But it’s not an excuse for me,” said Laine, who won’t join Team Finland for the world championship next month in Slovakia. “I was still able to play and I was able to play good. So, when there were times when I wasn’t playing good, it’s not an excuse for me.”

Laine scored three goals in six playoff games, after supplying 30 goals and 50 points in the regular season.

“I think I’ve worked on (the back) a lot over the past couple of years, but it just seems like it always comes back. Just don’t know why. Just trying to still take good care of it and there’s a long summer, so hopefully, get a good recovery on that, too. Hopefully, it’s not going to be painful next season,” he said.

Maurice said he’s hopeful it won’t become a long-term concern.

“Am I worried about it? Yes, if it gets worse. But no more than the other 14 guys that have something that if it got worse it could be a real problem,” he said. “So, that’s part of the maintenance, it’s part of as these guys get older, they develop a program for their body that’s unique to them that they do every day.”

Morrissey returned for the playoffs after missing Winnipeg’s final 20 regular-season games with a separated shoulder. It happened on a hit by Arizona Coyotes forward Vinnie Hinostroza on Feb. 24.

“I felt confident. But until you start taking some hits, you don’t really know how it’s going to respond. I don’t know percentage-wise, exactly, but I think with an injury like that, and different injuries sometimes, you can get back to a level where you’re ready to play, but it’s going to take some time to heal before it’s fully 100 (per cent),” Morrissey said.

“Fortunately, with that specific type of injury, there really isn’t a surgery required. It’s more of just healing and doing the right things rehab-wise. By next year, we’ll be back to 100 per cent.”

Backup goalie Laurent Brossoit said a hamstring issue, suffered in Vegas in March, likely cost him a couple of starts down the stretch.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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Updated on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 7:51 AM CDT: Adds photo

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