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This article was published 1/3/2018 (944 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Facing reporters for the first time since Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck didn’t feel like reliving his unpleasant night.
"I do mind going back to it. I don’t want to bring it up," Hellebuyck said when asked to go over what he and goaltending coach Wade Flaherty discussed from the game.
"There’s no need — it’s in the past. There are 82 games and I’m focusing on the next one. We’ve had a good run, so far, and we want to continue it."
Not that you could blame him. It was a rare off night in an otherwise solid season for the third-year tender.
Hellebuyck, 24, allowed six goals on 32 shots, boasting a putrid .813 save percentage — one of the worst percentages over his career.
Hellebuyck, despite the rough outing, possesses a stellar 2.39 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
In 50 starts, his record is 32-10-8 and many NHL pundits consider him a worthy Vezina Trophy candidate, awarded to the league’s best goaltender.
The concern that Hellebuyck might be overused — with 19 games left in the regular season, he needs just three more starts to match his career-high — popped up again. And once more, Hellebuyck got in front of it, suggesting there was nothing to be worried about.
"I’m not tired at all," he said.
"I know my body really well and I have a lot of good tools around me. I’m feeling good and I’m excited."
Head coach Paul Maurice downplayed overusing Hellebuyck.
He said it was all about rhythm and routine, noting the Jets have 15 games this month and a bunch on the road — a stretch he doesn’t plan to keep Hellebuyck out for any block of.
"You’ve got to be careful where you think the balance is," Maurice said.
"There’s a bunch of things going on concurrently with this team. There are young guys going through some things for the first time. And this is going to be his first numbers at the end of the year looking like a No. 1 guy — it’s in that mid-60 (games played) range.
"We had an unusual run at home, which happened at the same time as a couple of goalies down. So, he’s probably a little ahead of his number, but not much. So, he’s dealing with it. Some of it is the normal fatigue that all these guys feel. He hasn’t dealt with that in the NHL yet. It’s going to be something that’s going to become part of his life. That’s just the normal deal."
Hellebuyck will get the start tonight, with Michael Hutchinson assigned the role of backup.
Maurice said Steve Mason, who has been out since Jan. 12 with a concussion, will join the Manitoba Moose this weekend and will get into a game as part of a conditioning stint.
WHAT A YEAR CAN DO: At this time this past season, the Winnipeg Jets had 62 points — a 21-point difference from the 83 points they have through 63 games this year. Captain Blake Wheeler was asked to what he attributed such an incredible turnaround.
"We’ve been better defensively — goaltending has been better," he said.
"Those two areas give you a chance to win every night."
TOBY ON THE SHELF: Maurice said defenceman Toby Enstrom remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury he suffered at practice on Monday and will be out of the lineup against the Red Wings.
"But this isn’t long-term," Maurice said, explaining what had changed from his original diagnosis that Enstrom was fine.
"He came back more swollen. He left walking, feeling good. Came back and still thought he was all right, just a little more swollen. We’ve got healthy bodies. We’ll be careful with it."
firstname.lastname@example.org twitter: @jeffkhamilton
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.
Updated on Friday, March 2, 2018 at 7:44 AM CST: Edited
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