The difference in tone and message could have not been more striking.

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The difference in tone and message could have not been more striking.

On one hand, veteran forward Mathieu Perreault was clearly frustrated at being held out of Game 4, saying it was not his choice to remain parked in the press box after being injured in the first game of the playoffs against Minnesota. He declared himself fit to play earlier in the week, said the medical staff have given him a clean bill of health and believes he could have been a difference-maker in a 2-1 loss Thursday night.

"I felt like I could have played, yes. But it’s not my call, obviously, so it comes down to coach’s decision so I let them know I felt good, I wanted to play and there’s nothing else I can do," the always-candid Perreault said Friday following a skate at Bell MTS Place before his team jumped on a plane to Nashville for Saturday’s Game 5.

"You know, I feel like a little bit of energy could have maybe helped the team, so hopefully I can come in and do that and try to get in on their D and just do what Mathieu Perreault does," he said.

'It's hard to be watching from the stands, so I definitely want to be out there. I'm just kind of waiting for a chance to get out there'‐ Mathieu Perreault

On the other hand, head coach Paul Maurice insisted Perreault was not the healthy scratch so many believed he was including, it appears, Perreault himself. But he offered little in the way of insight and plenty in the way of humour mixed with a little sarcasm.

"Really bad attitude in the morning skate (Thursday). And that’s it for me, man. We’ll see if he brings a better attitude (Saturday)," Maurice joked when asked why Perreault didn’t dress.

When told Perreault felt he could, and should, have played, Maurice clapped his hands together at the podium.

"Awesome. Love the positive attitude," the coach cracked.

And then when pressed about what Perreault could bring to the lineup, specifically how he could alter the look of Winnipeg’s ability to roll four strong lines that Nashville would be hard-pressed to match up against, Maurice responded in bizarre fashion.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Forward Mathieu Perreault informed the media on Friday he is healthy and could have played in Game 4. That seems to be at odds with what head coach Paul Maurice is saying.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Forward Mathieu Perreault informed the media on Friday he is healthy and could have played in Game 4. That seems to be at odds with what head coach Paul Maurice is saying.

"Wonderful hair," said Maurice.

So what exactly is going on here?

Maurice eventually got around to addressing the issue. Sort of.

"It wasn’t close, fellas. I’m not saying how close it is. He feels he’s ready to play, that’s really, really important. The docs like where he’s at, that’s really important. I’m not putting two guys in my lineup that I’m concerned about coming in off injury on any single given night," Maurice said.

That would be a reference to Joel Armia, who returned Thursday after missing the first three games of the series.

Perreault could certainly alter the look of the Jets. He would likely send Matt Hendricks to the sidelines and reunite with Armia and Bryan Little on what could be a highly-effective bottom-six line.

That could also allow Maurice to reunite his top checking trio of Adam Lowry, Brandon Tanev and Andrew Copp.

With Perreault still out Thursday night, Little skated with Lowry and Tanev while Copp was paired with Hendricks and Armia. Not exactly the same look, and one that essentially made the Jets a three-line team once they fell behind and were pressing for some offence.

"It’s hard to be watching from the stands, so I definitely want to be out there. I’m just kind of waiting for a chance to get out there," Perreault said. "It’s hard to watch. When you win, it’s awesome but a game like (Thursday) night when you end up losing, it’s really hard to watch."

Whether he gets a chance to make an impact in Game 5 or continues to be a frustrated spectator remains to be seen.

"I feel the same way, so it’s coach’s decision. I’m here waiting and I’ll be ready when I get the chance," Perreault said.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

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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