December 18, 2018

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Kulikov nearing (another) return

Jets blue-liner sheds non-contact jersey

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Jets defenceman Dmitry Kulikov practises with his teammates at Bell MTS Place on Thursday. He could return from an upper-body injury as early as tonight.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jets defenceman Dmitry Kulikov practises with his teammates at Bell MTS Place on Thursday. He could return from an upper-body injury as early as tonight.

He was finally getting back up to game speed while earning more trust from the coaching staff. And then, just like that, Dmitry Kulikov was back in a familiar place — on the injured list.

It was, to say the least, a frustrating development for the 28-year-old Winnipeg Jets defenceman who had spent the entire summer and early fall rehabilitating following off-season back surgery. He’d been a healthy scratch for a number of games to start this season but appeared to be trending up until going down once again in the Nov. 9 game against Colorado with an upper-body injury.

“It wasn’t anything, no big hit, no heavy collision. Just kind of fell in an awkward (way) and hurt it,” Kulikov said Thursday.

Now, after nearly a month of rest and recovery, he’s ready to return to the lineup. Kulikov was a full participant in practice, shedding his non-contact jersey, and could play as early as tonight when the Jets host the St. Louis Blues.

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He was finally getting back up to game speed while earning more trust from the coaching staff. And then, just like that, Dmitry Kulikov was back in a familiar place — on the injured list.

It was, to say the least, a frustrating development for the 28-year-old Winnipeg Jets defenceman who had spent the entire summer and early fall rehabilitating following off-season back surgery. He’d been a healthy scratch for a number of games to start this season but appeared to be trending up until going down once again in the Nov. 9 game against Colorado with an upper-body injury.

"It wasn’t anything, no big hit, no heavy collision. Just kind of fell in an awkward (way) and hurt it," Kulikov said Thursday.

Now, after nearly a month of rest and recovery, he’s ready to return to the lineup. Kulikov was a full participant in practice, shedding his non-contact jersey, and could play as early as tonight when the Jets host the St. Louis Blues.

"Felt really good. The rehab went smooth, just like we expected, like the doctors were saying. Just happy to be with the team, back on the ice for a regular practice," he said.

Kulikov is in the second year of a three-year, US$12.99-million free agent contract he signed with the Jets in the summer of 2017. He had three goals and eight assists in 62 regular-season games and one playoff game last season, and one assist in the six games he’s played so far this year.

"It’s tougher when you have to sit and watch the team play and can’t do anything about it. You just have to wait and let the body heal. You just go into a place where you don’t think about how long it’s going to be, just focus on it day by day," Kulikov said of his mindset.

He said watching the Jets continue to play well has made it more tolerable.

"They’ve faced some adversity in games, came back and showed character. Won a couple tough games, obviously shows we have some character in this room. Guys don’t give up, even though we’re down in the third or down during the game," Kulikov said.


Ben Chiarot welcomed his defence partner back on the ice Thursday — and couldn’t resist taking a jab at Dustin Byfuglien in the process.

"It was brutal, having him back out there," Chiarot said of the injured veteran, who missed the New York-area road trip with a concussion. "No, he’s good, he’s a big part of our team, big part of the locker room, one of the best players in the league. So any time you add him back, it’s a welcome sight."

Jets defenceman Ben Chiarot</p></p>

Jets defenceman Ben Chiarot

Chiarot logged big minutes on the road with the Jets being short-handed on the blue line and said he tried to simplify his game.

"Maybe when you’re playing elevated minutes, like myself, when my minutes get higher, I can’t be running around and playing as physical as when I’m playing my usual game of 17, 18 minutes. When I get up to 22, 23 minutes, it’s a little more positional for myself," he said. "For the other guys, you just play your game, you try not to think about it too much, you accept the new opportunity that you’re going to get with playing more ice time and you just run with it."


A small free agent signing is proving to be a big addition for the organization.

Logan Shaw has two hat tricks this season with the Manitoba Moose.


 Nov 21st, 2018

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Logan Shaw has two hat tricks this season with the Manitoba Moose. Nov 21st, 2018

Logan Shaw, a veteran of 180 NHL games, now has nine goals and four assists in 10 games since joining the Manitoba Moose after being signed on a two-way deal by the Jets from the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. That includes a pair of hat tricks in the first four games of Manitoba’s current six-game road trip through California.

Shaw, 26, is certainly a recall option at some point for the Jets. And he’s given a major boost to the Moose, who are missing numerous pieces including Mason Appleton, Sami Niku and Cam Schilling, who are all currently with the Jets. They also lost Kristian Vesalainen and Dennis Everberg to Europe, and several regulars including Tucker Poolman, Marko Dano, Seth Griffith, Ryan White, JC Lipon and Nic Kerdiles are currently injured.

They’ve had to call up numerous players from their ECHL affiliate to fill out their roster. Manitoba is 10-12-1 overall, including 1-3-0 on the trip so far which ends with back-to-back games in Stockton tonight and Saturday night against the Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames.


It’s probably good news for Schilling that his four games with the Jets were fairly uneventful.

The longtime AHLer, one of three blue-liners recalled from the Manitoba Moose last week, averaged 12:06 of ice time and registered his first NHL point — an assist against the Chicago Blackhawks Nov. 29. Much of the time, he was paired with Tyler Myers.

"I thought I did well overall," Schilling said. "I stuck to my personal game plan of just keeping it simple, moving the puck out of our own zone, play hard when I needed to and picking my spots when I get offence. That’s all I can do. I don’t want to try to do too much because it’s high risk, high reward."

All three call-ups — Schilling, Niku and Nelson Nogier (who was returned to the Moose on Thursday) — got good grades from head coach Paul Maurice.

"Sami Niku, I thought, really built to point that his Islander game was exciting for us," Maurice said. "He’d go into some holes with speed. His reads, defensively, improved. Cam... right from the minute he started, looked comfortable out there. And (Nogier) kinda got pressed in at the last minute and looked fast in the back, brought some pucks out, made some good plays, got up the ice a little bit for us. So all three played very well."

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

 

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

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.

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