October 18, 2018

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Team short on luck when it comes to goalies

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Manitoba Moose goaltender Eric Comrie has been called up to serve as backup to Connor Hellebuyck.</p></p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Manitoba Moose goaltender Eric Comrie has been called up to serve as backup to Connor Hellebuyck.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/2/2018 (251 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If the Winnipeg Jets weren’t already in the market for a goaltender, they certainly should be now. And maybe some bubble wrap, a lucky rabbit’s foot and a four-leaf clover while they’re at it.

Michael Hutchinson is out indefinitely with a concussion after taking a deflected shot to the mask, head coach Paul Maurice revealed on Thursday. The incident happened during Tuesday’s morning skate, but symptoms didn’t surface until after Wednesday’s practice.

“He started feeling unusual,” Maurice said. “It was a tip in front of the net, a shot along the ice that came up on him.”

Hutchinson won his only start this season with the Jets, a 3-1 victory last week over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is now in concussion protocol.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/2/2018 (251 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If the Winnipeg Jets weren’t already in the market for a goaltender, they certainly should be now. And maybe some bubble wrap, a lucky rabbit’s foot and a four-leaf clover while they’re at it.

Michael Hutchinson is out indefinitely with a concussion after taking a deflected shot to the mask, head coach Paul Maurice revealed on Thursday. The incident happened during Tuesday’s morning skate, but symptoms didn’t surface until after Wednesday’s practice.

"He started feeling unusual," Maurice said. "It was a tip in front of the net, a shot along the ice that came up on him."

Hutchinson won his only start this season with the Jets, a 3-1 victory last week over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is now in concussion protocol.

Eric Comrie was recalled Thursday afternoon from the Manitoba Moose. He has just two NHL starts under his belt, including a 6-4 loss in Florida earlier this season. He is 15-8-2 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 25 American Hockey League games this year.

Winnipeg is already without goalie Steve Mason, who has missed the past 10 games after suffering his second concussion of the season. Just like Hutchinson, the damage was caused by friendly fire as a teammate hit him in the mask during a morning skate in Chicago on Jan. 12.

Mason recently resumed light skating on his own, but there is no timetable for his return. Medical officials are being extra cautious given his medical history.

"He’s in and out. So he’ll skate one day, they’ll keep him off the next. It’s just a real longer curve on second concussion in a short period of time," Maurice said.

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press Files</p><p>Goaltender Michael Hutchinson is out with a concussion after being hit in the face mask by a puck.</p>

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press Files

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson is out with a concussion after being hit in the face mask by a puck.

Mason suffered the first concussion in late November when he was hit by a slapshot from the San Jose Sharks’ Jannik Hansen. That injury cost him seven games. Maurice was asked Thursday what it says about equipment and the velocity of shots that one team could lose two goalies to three separate concussions in a season — all caused by taking pucks off their masks.

"I think some of these are just unusual runs. You’ll go a long stretch and nobody gets an injury," he said. "I don’t know if there’s a theme to it. I remember watching Dominik Hasek practise and trying to stop pucks with his head, screaming at players to one-time it. He was leaning into the shots."

Maurice said the situation may affect his plan for No. 1 netminder Connor Hellebuyck, who was possibly going to get one of the next three games off. Now Maurice may have little choice but to keeping running with Hellebuyck, given the importance of these upcoming games, how tight the Central Division standings are and Comrie’s lack of NHL experience.

The Jets play the St. Louis Blues tonight, the New York Rangers Sunday afternoon and the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

It’s also possible general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff may start to work the phones in advance of the Feb. 26 trade deadline to look at bringing in another goaltender, given the current string of bad-luck injuries. Winnipeg has plenty of cap space, prospects and draft picks to dangle as bait, and this is too important of a position to just try to slap a bandage on.

In other injury news, forward Brendan Lemieux didn’t practise Thursday. Maurice said he was "a little bit banged up" during Tuesday night’s 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes and held out as a precaution. He won’t play against the Blues, which means the Jets have no extra healthy forwards at their disposal. They do have one extra skater in defenceman Tucker Poolman.

Forwards Matt Hendricks, Adam Lowry, Brandon Tanev and Shawn Matthias are injured and not currently skating. Hendricks is considered to be the closest to returning, with Lowry likely right behind him. Both are listed as day-to-day. Tanev and Matthias are week-to-week. Top-pairing defenceman Jacob Trouba is also out with an ankle injury and is at least a month away from returning.

As a result of Hutchinson’s injury, Jamie Phillips — who began the season playing in the ECHL — is now the de facto starter for the Moose. Following Comrie’s recall, Manitoba signed Jake Hildebrand to a professional tryout.

Hildebrand, 24, has played in 36 ECHL games this season with the Tulsa Oilers, going 12-15-6 with a 3.28 GAA and .907 SV%. Manitoba finishes up a nine-game road trip this weekend with a pair of games in Cleveland before playing eight in a row starting Thursday at Bell MTS Place.

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

Updated on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 4:21 PM CST: full write-thru, adds photo

February 9, 2018 at 7:22 AM: Edited

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