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Chiarot out, Niku back with big club

PHILADELPHIA — Ben Chiarot pulled a few slick moves on a makeshift forward line Sunday during Jets practice, but will play neither up front nor on defence during the opener of Winnipeg’s two-game road trip.

Chiarot (lower body) has been ruled out for today’s clash with the Philadelphia Flyers, but could play tomorrow night against the Bruins in Boston. The 27-year-old blue-liner was hurt Jan. 13 against the visiting Anaheim Ducks and has missed three straight games.

“Because of the injury he has and the back-to-backs, I don’t have him going (Sunday). But if he’s feeling good, we’ll see him in Boston,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said, following an hour-long skate at chilly Class of 1923 Arena in the heart of Philly.

Sami Niku is back with the big club after a three-game stint with the Manitoba Moose last week while the rest of the Jets were enjoying the bye week. He was officially recalled Sunday morning. The young Finnish-born blue-liner had solid outings in Nashville and Dallas while paired with Joe Morrow before the break.

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PHILADELPHIA — Ben Chiarot pulled a few slick moves on a makeshift forward line Sunday during Jets practice, but will play neither up front nor on defence during the opener of Winnipeg’s two-game road trip.

Chiarot (lower body) has been ruled out for today’s clash with the Philadelphia Flyers, but could play tomorrow night against the Bruins in Boston. The 27-year-old blue-liner was hurt Jan. 13 against the visiting Anaheim Ducks and has missed three straight games.

SUPPLIED</p><p>Philadelphia Zamboni driver Gideon Blum (left) with his hockey hero, Jets forward Mathieu Perreault.</p>

SUPPLIED

Philadelphia Zamboni driver Gideon Blum (left) with his hockey hero, Jets forward Mathieu Perreault.

"Because of the injury he has and the back-to-backs, I don’t have him going (Sunday). But if he’s feeling good, we’ll see him in Boston," Jets coach Paul Maurice said, following an hour-long skate at chilly Class of 1923 Arena in the heart of Philly.

Sami Niku is back with the big club after a three-game stint with the Manitoba Moose last week while the rest of the Jets were enjoying the bye week. He was officially recalled Sunday morning. The young Finnish-born blue-liner had solid outings in Nashville and Dallas while paired with Joe Morrow before the break.

Veteran defenceman Dustin Byfuglien (lower body) and Nikolaj Ehlers (upper body) are not on the trip. Byfuglien is still likely a week away while the speedy forward still needs another couple of weeks.

"None of these injuries are getting pushed a day earlier. We’re waiting on all of them," Maurice said.


One of Mathieu Perreault’s biggest fans circled the ice Sunday before his hero and the rest of the Jets appeared.

Gideon Blum is the Zamboni driver at the rink on the U of Penn campus, and he sported a No. 85 Winnipeg jersey while he flooded the ice for Jets practice.

"It’s Matty P., all the way," said the 22-year-old student, who works part time at the facility sometimes used by Flyers opponents. "Perreault basically got me into hockey."

The story actually makes perfect sense. Blum grew up in Washington, D.C., and was hooked on the Capitals during his early teens when Perreault broke into the NHL nine years ago. He quickly became a devoted follower of the 5-10, 188-pound energy forward.

"I played a bit before but I was pretty small. But I watched him in the NHL, and he wasn’t a big guy but he could do things with the puck, he was good on every line he played on. He elevates the play of every line he’s on," Blum said. "He scores great goals, his energy is unbelievable. I was so mad when he left (Washington)."

The Caps dealt Perreault to the Anaheim Ducks just days before the start of the 2013-14, and the Jets signed him to sign a three-year contract in the summer of 2014. He inked a four-year $16.5-million contract extension two years later. Perreault has 10 goals and nine assists in 48 games this year.

Perreault and Blum met after practice in the bowels of the chilly rink.

"He said he was a fan of mine from Washington and then he just kept following me up to Winnipeg and he got a jersey, so that was awesome to see," Perreault said. "Especially a guy like me, you don’t really see that too much, so it was really nice."


Maurice played the blame game Sunday, less than 24 hours after one of the marquee games of his NHL coaching career. Not really.

He kibitzed with reporters who brought up the subject of the Central Division’s lopsided defeat to the Metropolitan Division in the All-Star Game finale in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday night.

Maurice coached the losing side, which featured a couple of his most trusted performers, Blake Wheeler and top centre Mark Scheifele.

The Winnipeg captain had joked during post-game interviews that the squad was "out-coached," a quip that clearly had escaped the ears of Maurice until after the Jets quick-paced skate.

"Absolutely. But that’s true of every game we’ve ever lost," Maurice said, before going on the offensive. "I blame (Nathan) MacKinnon because he might have been running the bench, but I’ll take the heat as the head guy."

MacKinnon, star centre with the Colorado Avalanche, didn’t play for the Central because of a foot injury, but stood with Maurice behind the bench.

"I kept putting the wrong guys out against (Sidney) Crosby," Maurice added.

Crosby, who scored twice against the Atlantic Division in one mini-game semifinal and twice more in the final against the Central, was named most valuable player of the event.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant 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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History

Updated on Sunday, January 27, 2019 at 11:14 PM CST: edited

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