The Winnipeg Jets push to a coveted playoff spot will come without Mathieu Perreault doing any of the heavy lifting.

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The Winnipeg Jets push to a coveted playoff spot will come without Mathieu Perreault doing any of the heavy lifting.

Jets coach Paul Maurice confirmed after practice today that Perreault, injured in Monday’s 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers after taking a hit from defenceman Jeff Petry, will likely be out until April.

Winnipeg Jets Dustin Byfuglien, left, with teammate Mark Scheifele, is back as a forward at practice today at the Iceplex.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets Dustin Byfuglien, left, with teammate Mark Scheifele, is back as a forward at practice today at the Iceplex.

Drew Stafford, meanwhile, could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday’s game in Washington after missing most of the third period against the Oilers with an upper-body injury.

"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 on 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.

"We have a huge advantage, literally and figuratively, in that Dustin Byfuglien can transition up front and then be a powerful force," said Maurice. "We’ve lost a Top 6 forward in Mathieu and now put one back up. The value of adding Tyler Myers comes to the forefront now… he and Toby (Enstrom) had good chemistry in the game and even today, as a pair, in some of the stuff we’re doing."

Mark Scheifele and a trainer assist Mathieu Perreault off the ice after being injured while playing against the Edmonton Oilers' on Monday at the MTS Centre. Head coach Paul Maurice confirmed after practice that Perreault will likely be out until April.

CP

Mark Scheifele and a trainer assist Mathieu Perreault off the ice after being injured while playing against the Edmonton Oilers' on Monday at the MTS Centre. Head coach Paul Maurice confirmed after practice that Perreault will likely be out until April.

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 NHL action, the Jets continue to hold down the first Wildcard 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 2nd trade deadline.

Carl Klingberg will meet the team in Washington.

JOE BRYKSA / FREE PRESS FILES

Carl Klingberg will meet the team in Washington.

"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 on Wednesday, but skipped just for ‘maintenance.’ The Jets also hope to have winger Matt Halischuk back in early March.

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

 

Twitter: @WFPEdTait