Record: 52 – 20 – 10
Adam Lowry tried. But after taking a few twirls during Sunday’s pre-game skate, the decision was made to keep him out of the lineup. That opened the door for Jack Roslovic to make his season debut and play just the second NHL game of his career.
"You’ve got to prepare every day like you’re going to play, so I just went to bed (Saturday) and thought, ‘You’re either going to be playing or not.’ So I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play, and I found out about five minutes left in warmup that (Lowry) couldn’t go," Roslovic said after his team’s 4-1 win over San Jose.
The top scorer from the Manitoba Moose certainly didn’t look out place. Roslovic got 7:57 of action Sunday, with two shots on net. He had a great scoring chance late in the game while on a line with Matt Hendricks and captain Blake Wheeler, who was double-shifting in place of Marko Dano.
The fact he was taking a regular shift late in the game was certainly telling. Other players, including Dano, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, saw their ice time limited.
"We had a couple of guys that were having a real hard time getting the puck out, getting it off the wall. And he wasn’t. There were three plays in the neutral zone where he had to make a read, and he made it perfectly. He covered off a guy who had made a mistake one time," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said following the game.
Lowry is considered day-to-day and could play Tuesday in Buffalo. The injury apparently happened sometime during last Friday’s game against the Sabres, although Lowry finished the game. However, he was absent from Saturday’s practice.
Maurice said there’s certainly a temptation to keep Roslovic in the lineup regardless, although who would come out is the question.
"Yes would be the answer based on the game, we really liked it. Marko Dano’s got two goals since he’s come back. Shawn Matthias got one... So you can’t really look at those guys and say there’s a failing there. I don’t know that there’s anybody further up the lineup that I’m willing to take out right now. We’re what, 5-0-1 in the last six, so we’re all right. But I certainly have no problem playing him," Maurice said.
Hendricks was certainly impressed with what he saw.
"The guy can skate, huh? He’s fast. He’s got a great head for the game. He seems to be able to find those soft areas. You can tell why he’s been so offensive in the American (Hockey) League. He’s got that ability," Hendricks said. "With a break here or there, he would have had one in the net. Or a couple of assists. He’s been working extremely hard since he’s come up. I’m glad he got the opportunity to show what he had. I thought he did a good job."
Roslovic said he will remain ready for whenever the next opportunity presents itself.
"It’s all about the journey right now, and it’s going to sometimes be games like where you don’t find out until five minutes before, and sometimes you’re going to know the day before. It’s all good," he said.
Could Mark Scheifele return to the lineup sooner than expected?
Don’t rule out the possibility. Maurice updated the status of his injured No. 1 centre this weekend, saying Scheifele is making some positive strides.
"I think he is going to be a quick healer," Maurice said.
Scheifele went down with some type of serious shoulder injury during the Dec. 27 game against Edmonton and was slated to miss between six-and-eight weeks. Surgery was not required. Maurice said Scheifele is now about a week away from being able to get back into the weight room to do some lower-body activity.
"He’s not enjoying it by any means. We’ll have to watch him trying to get a little bit ahead of himself," Maurice said.
Maurice just missed out this past weekend on being named the head coach of the Central Division all-star team.
Although the Jets are leading the division, Nashville began the day Sunday with a slightly better winning percentage. And that meant the honour went to Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette.
To date, only the captains of the four divisional teams have been named based on fan vote. Nashville defenceman P.K. Subban will lead the Central. The rest of the roster for the three-on-three mini-tournament is expected to be named on Wednesday.
Several Jets are likely in the running, with goalie Connor Hellebuyck and captain Blake Wheeler likely the favourites.
The game will be held Jan. 28 in Tampa Bay.
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.