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This article was published 19/1/2020 (405 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CHICAGO — It was a loss that may prove to be especially costly for the Winnipeg Jets.
Not only did they fall 5-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night, they also lost shutdown centre Adam Lowry to an upper-body injury early in the game. The 26-year-old, who is one of the few physical players on the team, was victimized by a blindside hit from Chicago’s Drake Caggiula. Lowry fell awkwardly to the ice and seemed to be clutching his hand or shoulder. Following the game, he was spotted with his arm in a sling.
'...it's pretty tough to lose a guy like him'‐ Josh Morrissey on Adam Lowry
"We’ll get him tested and looked at a little bit (today) and then we’ll have a better idea of where we’re at on that," said coach Paul Maurice.
Missing Lowry for any duration would be another huge hit for a Jets team that doesn’t have a whole lot of "bite" and often struggles to play big, heavy clubs, like the ones in the Central Division. The 6-5, 210 pound Lowry anchors the third line, which has recently been comprised of Mathieu Perreault and Jack Roslovic. He has four goals and six assists this season.
It would also be a big blow to one of the NHL’s worst penalty killing units, which has been showing signs of improvement.
Caggiula was given a two-minute interference penalty, although the Jets seemed to believe it could have been a major.
"At the time I didn’t really see it because I was kind of to the side. I felt like he’s in a pretty defenseless situation. To be honest I’d have to watch it, I haven’t seen the play other than quickly on the Jumbotron. For me, I think he’s in a pretty tough spot. Obviously now he doesn’t return to the game so it’s pretty tough to lose a guy like him. He’s a huge part of our team. That’s my interpretation," said defenceman Josh Morrissey.
Caggiula, no doubt feeling a bit more relaxed with Lowry out of the game, continued to be a thorn in Winnipeg’s side all night. He took a run at Nikolaj Ehlers and was called for both interference and unsportsmanlike conduct, drawing the ire of Mark Scheifele who chirped him all the way to the penalty box. Then he tripped up Luca Sbisa later in the game.
Unfortunately for the Jets, they whiffed on all four power play chances Caggiula’s reckless play handed them. And Maurice had to scramble his lines, moving Mason Appleton up to play with Perreault and Roslovic, and leaving fourth-liners Nick Shore and Gabriel Bourque without a regular member of their trio.
"It affects your penalty kill and it affects how you’re gonna run your bench for sure. I got some other guys some minutes in there but he’s a big loss for us obviously," said Maurice.
The Jets are also without centres Bryan Little and Mark Letestu to long-term injuries. And the injury bug has bit hard on the blue-line, with Tucker Poolman, Nathan Beaulieu and Carl Dahlstrom all currently hurt, on top of Dustin Byfuglien’s ongoing absence.
Add it all up and a team that is struggling these days to remain competitive may have to dip into their thinning depth even more. On Sunday night, forward Jansen Harkins was the lone healthy scratch up front, while Manitoba Moose blue-liners Cam Schilling and Nelson Nogier watched from the press box as extra insurance for this current three-game road trip.
Perhaps one positive is that, following back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday in Carolina and Columbus, the Jets will enjoy an eight-day break for the All-Star game and league-mandated player hiatus.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.