July 19, 2018

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Wonky ankle won't keep Trouba out

<p>Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba says he is ready to start the playoffs despite having to deal with a nagging ankle injury.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba says he is ready to start the playoffs despite having to deal with a nagging ankle injury.

There's still some uncertainty about Jacob Trouba's wonky ankle.

The Jets defenceman said Tuesday afternoon he's good to go for Game 1 of Winnipeg's first-round playoff series with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

But Trouba also indicated the injury, which sidelined him for 20 games this season, might force him to play through some discomfort.

"It’s expected. I’ve talked to other people who have had similar injuries before. I know what to expect and you just have to roll with the up and downs, I guess," Trouba said following practice.

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There's still some uncertainty about Jacob Trouba's wonky ankle.

The Jets defenceman said Tuesday afternoon he's good to go for Game 1 of Winnipeg's first-round playoff series with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

But Trouba also indicated the injury, which sidelined him for 20 games this season, might force him to play through some discomfort.

"It’s expected. I’ve talked to other people who have had similar injuries before. I know what to expect and you just have to roll with the up and downs, I guess," Trouba said following practice.

Trouba, 24, was injured against the Anaheim Ducks in late January and returned in mid-March. He later sat out five games because of a concussion, and was held out of the Jets' final game of the regular season against the Chicago Blackhawks after tweaking the ankle injury during practice the day before.

Trouba, partnered with Josh Morrissey on the club's top pairing, said he's not alone in dealing with a nagging injury during the thrill of the post-season.

"It was just a normal thing you go through and I’m sure it’s going to happen again. I expect it to happen again. You prepare for it and be ready to play with it, however it is," he said.

<p>Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck saves the breakaway attempt by Calgary Flames' Nick Shore last Thursday. Hellebuyck is expecting the intensity to ramp up during the playoffs. "I’m just going to try to stop every puck I possibly can."</p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS/JOHN WOODS

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck saves the breakaway attempt by Calgary Flames' Nick Shore last Thursday. Hellebuyck is expecting the intensity to ramp up during the playoffs. "I’m just going to try to stop every puck I possibly can."

It's the time of year when every player tries to find an edge. That's why Connor Hellebuyck expects some controversy to come when it comes to goaltender interference.

"I don’t think anyone’s clear on it," the Jets goalie said Tuesday of the current rule, which has been the source of much debate and now is in the hands of officials in Toronto to have the final say on following a mid-season adjustment.

"I’m just going to try to stop every puck I possibly can. I guess it’s out of my control. At least they’ve made a step to improve it, so we’ll see how playoffs go," he said. "We need to get a basis. There might be some controversy now but later on we’ll have the past history of this. So there might be some controversy."

Hellebuyck said he won't get rattled even if the envelope gets pushed.

"Any advantage to get a goal, you never know," he said. "I play a pretty calm style. Just not let them bother me. They’re going to see a composed guy in the net. That’s hopefully, what I think, frustrates them."


Lost in Winnipeg's fantastic finish to the regular season was the fact the team's special teams were rather mediocre down the stretch.

<p>Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice feels the Jets' special teams are just fine, despite some mediocre numbers near the end of the regular season.</p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS/JOHN WOODS

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice feels the Jets' special teams are just fine, despite some mediocre numbers near the end of the regular season.

Since March 1, Winnipeg's power play clicked at just 18.2 per cent, which was 19th in the NHL. The penalty killing wasn't much better, coming in at 78.9 per cent, which put the unit at 15th. Both those were well below their season averages.

It's rather remarkable Winnipeg went 15-3-1 during that stretch. Head coach Paul Maurice insisted Tuesday that he believes all is well when it comes to playing with both the man advantage and short-handed.

"They’re fine. You’ve seen it, good power play, penalty kill is good. It’s like everybody’s, they get hot, they get confident and they score goals. And when you’re right on it on the PK, our last game we didn’t see a lot of it, we’re pretty darn good on it. So, reasonably confident," said Maurice.


This is how Marko Dano envisioned it — almost.

The Jets enter the NHL playoffs as a legitimate threat to win the whole thing, and that's exactly how the Slovakian product hoped the 2017-18 NHL season would unfold.

<p>Winnipeg Jets' forward Marko Dano says staying in game shape has helped him jump into the lineup when called upon to do so.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' forward Marko Dano says staying in game shape has helped him jump into the lineup when called upon to do so.

His expectation was he'd be a bigger contributor but that didn't materialize. Dano has played just 23 games, scoring twice and adding one assist, and has been relegated to the role of extra forward. But if he's downcast about his lot in life, the affable 23-year-old isn't showing it.

"That's what I've been doing all season and every time when I got back into a game I felt really good because I stayed in shape and stayed ready," he said Tuesday. "So, just continue doing that and we'll see if I get a chance in the playoffs. You never know what can happen."

Dano, signed to a one-year, one-way US850,000-deal last summer, stayed with the big club because the Jets risked losing him on waivers if he was reassigned to the AHL's Manitoba Moose.

"This is a little different experience. It's still a learning process for me. Even this type of a season can help you a lot, being out of the lineup and coming back and play the game you're supposed to play. It's not easy but I think I've battled well and every time I came back I did my job," he said.

Forwards Shawn Matthias and Jack Roslovic and blue-liner Tucker Poolman round out the club's expected list of healthy scratches, while Matt Hendricks is now skating and working towards a return from a lower-body injury.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

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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Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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