April 26, 2018

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Myers' status a mystery

Andy Clayton-King / The Associated Press</p><p>Minnesota Wild left wing Marcus Foligno (17) is stopped by Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck (37) with defensive help from Jets' defenceman Tyler Myers (57) in on Sunday in St. Paul, Minn. </p>

Andy Clayton-King / The Associated Press

Minnesota Wild left wing Marcus Foligno (17) is stopped by Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck (37) with defensive help from Jets' defenceman Tyler Myers (57) in on Sunday in St. Paul, Minn.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Marcus Foligno maintains his innocence, two head coaches disagree and a crucial piece of the Winnipeg Jets’ defensive unit could be out of the lineup tonight.

Tyler Myers, injured in Game 3 of the best-of-seven NHL playoff series with the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, could miss Game 4 with what’s likely a leg injury after he fell awkwardly into the boards late in the second period.

There’s an unconfirmed report the 6-7, 230-pound blue-liner might have already returned to Winnipeg for further evaluation and treatment.

On Monday, Foligno pointed to an absence of malice in his collision with Myers that led to the injury. He tumbled into Myers near the Winnipeg blue-line, and replays seemed to show the Wild winger’s glove jabbing into the back of Myers’ knee as he was falling.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Marcus Foligno maintains his innocence, two head coaches disagree and a crucial piece of the Winnipeg Jets’ defensive unit could be out of the lineup tonight.

Tyler Myers, injured in Game 3 of the best-of-seven NHL playoff series with the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, could miss Game 4 with what’s likely a leg injury after he fell awkwardly into the boards late in the second period.

There’s an unconfirmed report the 6-7, 230-pound blue-liner might have already returned to Winnipeg for further evaluation and treatment.

On Monday, Foligno pointed to an absence of malice in his collision with Myers that led to the injury. He tumbled into Myers near the Winnipeg blue-line, and replays seemed to show the Wild winger’s glove jabbing into the back of Myers’ knee as he was falling.

Foligno said the play was basically a ‘freak accident’ and he meant Myers no harm.

"I’m going down for a blocked shot and I think he’s going by me and he pulls up at the last second, I stumble and, I mean, I guess I catch him on the way down. No intent there. Hopefully, he’s OK," said Foligno.

Myers slumped to the ice and was helped to the bench. He made his way to the dressing room and did not return, and was seen walking with a hint of a limp after Minnesota’s 6-2 victory.

No penalty was called, and the NHL’s department of player safety reviewed the play but decided against any action.

Asked to comment on the department’s decision, Jets head coach Paul Maurice said: "You know what, there are very clear guidelines as to my opinions, so I would disagree with the decision."

The Jets won’t make a decision on Myers’ availability until just before the start of tonight’s 7 p.m. game at Xcel Energy Center. Winnipeg leads the first-round series 2-1.

Myers, who played all 82 regular-season games for the Jets, scored goals in games 2 and 3.

Maurice was coy with reporters about the severity of Myers’ injury and whether or not he’ll suit up for Game 4. But he generally uses ‘game-time decision’ when commenting on the status of his injured players. Injured defenceman Toby Enstrom is also a game-time decision.

A social media storm kicked up after the incident, claiming Foligno deliberately punched Myers in the knee. The 26-year-old winger, who scored his first goal of the playoffs Sunday, refuted those suggestions.

"I’ve looked at it 100 times, too, and my stick’s in my hand and I think I’m trying to grab whatever I can before going down. No, there was no punching motion. I’m sure a lot of Winnipeg fans are saying that but no, I’m not trying to hurt someone out there, especially a good friend like Myers," he said.

The two players were with the Buffalo Sabres for parts of four seasons before Myers was dealt to Winnipeg in 2015. The Wild acquired Foligno in a trade last summer.

"We’re not friends over the playoffs but we are friends off the ice and it’s something I wouldn’t do to a friend, so it’s all good," Foligno said.

Jets captain Blake Wheeler saw the collision but hasn’t picked apart the incident on video.

"I saw it live and it was right in front of our bench. I haven’t seen the replay, so I can’t really comment on it. It looked live like it was a situation where (Foligno) was kind of caught off balance. It was just an unfortunate play," said Wheeler.

"I would expect guys aren’t trying to hurt each other out there. I think those two go back quite a ways as well. Just an unfortunate situation... those things happen, the game moves fast."

Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau scoffed at the notion there was intent by his player to injury Myers.

"(Foligno) fell. Anybody that thinks anything different, that there was something to it, is trying to create something that’s not there. He went to block a shot and he fell. That was it," he said.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @WFPJasonBell

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History

Updated on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 7:29 AM CDT: Updates

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