October 23, 2020

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Chiarot the man if Toby can't go

A 'chance' Enstrom could play on trip

Winnipeg Jets defenceman Ben Chiarot (63) drives the puck past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov during second-period action Sunday night.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets defenceman Ben Chiarot (63) drives the puck past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov during second-period action Sunday night.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/4/2015 (2027 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Defenceman Toby Enstrom will travel with the Winnipeg Jets this week but is a question mark to start the three-game road trip starting tonight in St. Paul, Minn.

Enstrom is listed by coach Paul Maurice as day-to-day after crumpling near the boards late in Saturday's home 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

He left the ice under his own power but looked to be in serious discomfort.

"He came back (Sunday) better than he left, so we'll bring him and there's a chance he'll play on the road trip," Maurice said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow before we make any decisions on tomorrow night's game."

If Enstrom can't go tonight, rookie Ben Chiarot is likely the player the Jets will turn to.

Chiarot was taken off the injured reserve list after missing 17 games. He had been out since Feb. 21 when he broke his hand in a fight in Toronto.

 

Replacement D-man ready to go

 

CHIAROT'S probably been ready for a week, Maurice said Sunday.

The 23-year-old rookie has averaged 16 minutes and 50 seconds per game in his 36 games this season.

"The positive is he'll go in tomorrow the same way he came in the last time," the coach said. "He's not coming in at six, seven minutes. He's going to go in and play big minutes, so he's used to that.

"He's had full time to recover, full practice time. He'll come off IR today. It was my choice in the last six or seven games to get him more practice time, because everybody knows it was a hand injury. He's been feeling good with the puck and he has been for a while.

"I think he's probably been ready to go and he'll go in and play big minutes."

 

Never a dull moment Saturday

 

SATURDAY'S 5-4 win over Vancouver almost had too much to process, it was that entertaining a game.

The Jets, for instance, solved a pretty good defensive team for five even-strength goals and never trailed in the game.

But near the end, they were only a Chris Higgins shot off the outside of the goalpost away from going to overtime with the Canucks.

Jets winger Chris Thorburn said all that matters is his team continues to push the envelope.

"We're a confident team going out and any game, we have a chance to win," he said. "I don't think that changes for the next four games. It's just a matter of us staying within our plan and throwing everything at them. We're a team that works hard every night and that in itself gives us a chance to win. It's just a matter of capitalizing."

Stempniak knows talent

 

ONE of Saturday's heroes, Lee Stempniak, said he's gaining a quick appreciation for the abilities of new linemate Mathieu Perreault, someone he knew little about before coming to Winnipeg in a March trade.

"He's really smart," Stempniak said, who buried a couple of sublime Perreault feeds on Saturday. "I didn't know much about him playing against him but playing with him, even in practice, he's so smart. He likes to hang onto the puck. He makes plays. A lot of it's trying to get open when he has the puck, trying to give him some space to do his thing.

"And the other thing that really impresses me is how hard he competes. He's always around loose pucks. He fights hard for them. He's got a good stick. He's just in the mix at all times, always around the puck and to play with a guy like that is great."

 

Fourth line earning its keep

 

IT USED to cause Jets fans sleepless nights.

Now the fourth line seems to be a force, having scored early goals in each of the last two games, both by centre Jim Slater.

"It's nice to contribute offensively instead of putting all the pressure on the top horses," Thorburn, Slater's right-winger, said. "Jimmy's been flying. He's been on fire. We know this. Jiri (Tlusty) is just an easy guy to play with. He's skilled. He can play up and down the lineup. That's been fun. Just getting off to quick starts like we did in the last two games, we're hoping to keep that going."

Maurice said the benefits of spread-out scoring are numerous.

"It doesn't change the challenge the top two lines face every night," the coach said. "They just don't have to do it for the same number of minutes. It allows you on back-to-backs to give yourself a chance to be a better team, because you don't have to push both your top two lines above 20 minutes.

"Then you're not just (treading) water when your bottom six (forwards) are on the ice."

Volkswagens vs. Porsches

 

MAURICE said he's been in some tight races to the playoffs in his coaching career, but this one is unique for him.

"This team has really for the whole season come ready to play every night," he said. "There just haven't been very many games at all that you were worried about that.

"But on (my) teams in the past, you're pulling teeth on a lot of nights and earlier in the year to get them to go as hard as they needed to go. In years past, we had to get the Volkswagens running as fast as the Porsches and sometimes that was a challenge. I don't feel like that here."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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