Record: 52 – 20 – 10
PHILADELPHIA — Tucker Poolman’s yo-yo season continues, as the rookie defenceman was pressed into emergency duty on Saturday afternoon when the injury bug bit the Winnipeg Jets once again.
Poolman was with the Manitoba Moose in Chicago when he got the call Friday night that Toby Enstrom might not be able to answer the bell for their matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers.
He hopped on a plane and arrived in the City of Brotherly Love around midnight, then was in the lineup a little more than 12 hours later.
"I wasn’t sure of anything until I got here and talked to the coaches. I found out maybe an hour or two before that I was going in," said Poolman, who dressed in his 16th NHL game, but his first since Feb. 1.
He was paired with Joe Morrow, who was playing in his fifth game with the Jets in place of an injured Dmitry Kulikov.
"It wasn’t your average game day, but that’s something I have to be ready for," he said.
Poolman showed a bit of rust Saturday, especially on one play where he tried a blind pass to a teammate, only to have it picked up by Philadelphia forward Matt Read, who went in on a breakaway, but was stopped by Connor Hellebuyck.
"I just wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be in the second and third (period). I liked my start," Poolman said of his game.
Poolman has played 17 games with the Moose this year, giving him just 33 games total all year. That’s because he’s spent a good chunk of the season as a healthy scratch with the Jets.
He’s actually played less this year than he did in college while competing at the University of North Dakota.
"I guess pro hockey’s just that way in general. For me, this year, I guess you gotta stay sharp and stay ready because you never know when you’re going to have to take a plane ride somewhere and be good the next day," Poolman said.
He has put up one goal and nine assists while playing big minutes with the Moose, and just one goal with no helpers while playing a much lesser role with the Jets.
He praised Moose head coach Pascal Vincent and his staff for working closely with him on his game.
"You get your feel back a little bit," Poolman said of his recent American Hockey League time.
With Enstrom battling an ongoing nagging injury, and Kulikov’s short-term status up in the air, it’s a good bet Poolman may be sticking around for a bit in his latest stint with the Jets.
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.