January 23, 2019

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Winnipeg Jets (31 – 15 – 2)

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Red-hot Hellebuyck gets night off

Maurice plays backup Brossoit to rest starter

Connor Hellebuyck has been on a heck of a roll, giving up just one goal in three consecutive starts while stopping 89 of 92 shots. So, it may have been a bit of a surprise to some to see the Winnipeg Jets’ No. 1 goaltender relegated to clipboard duty on the bench Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to Jets head coach Paul Maurice, it’s all part of a bigger plan.

“What we’re looking for is to try to manage some of the numbers, it’s more about what we know we have coming out of the Christmas break,” Maurice said Tuesday of giving his starter the night off. “There’s a seven-week block there where we’re going to end up running (Hellebuyck) fairly hard. We like the balance. (Hellebuyck) has been in for a bunch of games and he feels good. We want to keep him there.”

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Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit got the start in net Tuesday against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit got the start in net Tuesday against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

Connor Hellebuyck has been on a heck of a roll, giving up just one goal in three consecutive starts while stopping 89 of 92 shots. So, it may have been a bit of a surprise to some to see the Winnipeg Jets’ No. 1 goaltender relegated to clipboard duty on the bench Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to Jets head coach Paul Maurice, it’s all part of a bigger plan.

"What we’re looking for is to try to manage some of the numbers, it’s more about what we know we have coming out of the Christmas break," Maurice said Tuesday of giving his starter the night off. "There’s a seven-week block there where we’re going to end up running (Hellebuyck) fairly hard. We like the balance. (Hellebuyck) has been in for a bunch of games and he feels good. We want to keep him there."

Laurent Brossoit got the start for the Jets, and he’s certainly deserving of having his number called. He went 5-1-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .935 save percentage through six previous starts and one relief appearance.

Hellebuyck will likely return to action Thursday night when the Jets welcome the suddenly surging Edmonton Oilers to town. Brossoit may get another start Friday in Chicago, while Hellebuyck will likely be tapped when the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning pay a visit to Bell MTS Place on Sunday night.


Jets forward Mathieu Perreault was back in the lineup Tuesday night, thankful he dodged a bullet after taking a huge hit in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Perreault was knocked out of action in the third period after Dale Weise rocked him, which sent Perreault spinning head-first into the knee of Flyers defenceman Scott Laughton. Perreault missed practice Monday as a precaution.

Jets forward Mathieu Perreault was good to go Tuesday against the Blackhawks despite missing team practice the day before.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jets forward Mathieu Perreault was good to go Tuesday against the Blackhawks despite missing team practice the day before.

"It just felt like I got hit really hard, to be honest, when it happened. I didn’t really see him coming, so I didn’t have time to brace for impact or anything. I just took a hard hit and just took (Monday) off to recover," Perreault said following Tuesday’s morning skate.

Perreault pointed the finger of blame directly at himself.

"It’s kind of my bad for putting myself in that position, really, cutting across the middle. I kind of look, kind of see him coming, and then the puck bobbles on me and I got back to reach and I got hit. I put myself in a vulnerable position, so I kind of take responsibility for it," he said.


Memo to the NHL schedule-makers: please ensure the Jets have a game next Dec. 9.

That’s at the request of Jets forward Kyle Connor, who marked his 22nd birthday Sunday the same way he did his 21st birthday last season — by scoring a goal.

<p>Jets forward Kyle Connor celebrates after scoring in Tuesday’s game against the Blackhawks. Connor finished the night with two goals, giving him three in the past two games.</p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Jets forward Kyle Connor celebrates after scoring in Tuesday’s game against the Blackhawks. Connor finished the night with two goals, giving him three in the past two games.

Connor said it was icing on the proverbial cake to celebrate his special day by lighting the lamp for two consecutive years and he hopes to get a chance to extend the streak to three.

After all, a goal will be automatic, right?

"Maybe... that’s the way it seems," he said Tuesday with a laugh.

Connor’s 11th goal of the season was a bit of a gift from Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth, who whiffed on a seemingly harmless shot in the first period. Connor wasn’t about to complain, having gone 10 games without a goal despite having plenty of quality chances.

"It was just one of those things where it was just a matter of time for me, I knew it was going to go in," he said. "You never know, you put pucks to the net… you get a couple breakaways, put pucks off posts and then you get a little squeaker. It takes one of those garbage goals, maybe, to get you going."


Connor took some time Tuesday to reflect on the impact the legendary Red Berenson has had on his career.

Berenson, 79, was chosen this week for induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The former NHL player turned college coach has helped shape countless young lives, including Connor’s when he played under Berenson for a season in Michigan.

"It was a great experience. I remember meeting him for the first time, just went into the office and you could see he’s got trophies and memorabilia hanging from everywhere. He played with the Wings, the Blues, so it’s pretty cool to see all that. As a player, he’s just got so much knowledge and tells us stories and what we can learn from his experiences playing in the NHL and obviously coaching. I was very fortunate playing for him," Connor said.

"He really took the time. A lot of video, he always knew for me the offensive game and instincts were there. We worked a lot in the D-zone, certain positioning and knew the importance of that translating into the NHL. It’s that buy-in, that kind of mental preparation that he really harped on."


 

Chicago Blackhawks defencemen Brent Seabrook, right, and Duncan Keith hit the 1,000-game mark Tuesday as teammates.

(AP PHOTO/MARK J. TERRILL)

Chicago Blackhawks defencemen Brent Seabrook, right, and Duncan Keith hit the 1,000-game mark Tuesday as teammates.

History was made Tuesday night at Bell MTS Place as Chicago Blackhawks defencemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook played their 1,000th game together.

According to the NHL, they are the first defensive duo in league history to accomplish the feat.

Seabrook (1,036 games) moved into a tie for second with Bobby Hull for most games played for the Blackhawks. Keith sits fourth with 1,027, while Stan Mikita leads with 1,396.

There have been five other sets of teammates to eclipse the 1,000-game mark together, but never two defencemen.

Those five are Detroit’s Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio (1,353 games together), Vancouver’s Henrik and Daniel Sedin (1,276), Detroit’s Kris Draper and Nicklas Lidstrom (1,107), Montreal’s Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson (1,058) and Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier (1,007) with Edmonton and New York combined.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

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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