Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.
After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.
Already a subscriber?
Already a subscriber?
THE Winnipeg Jets continue to play a game of musical chairs with their blue-line.
Head coach Paul Maurice said it may continue for the foreseeable future as the team toys with the idea of deploying different pairings depending where they’re playing.
“First of all, at the end of the season if we list all the pairings that we use it’s going to be incredibly long. It’s going to be big number. We’re also playing with some home and road ideas. About pairings on a certain night on the road and at home,” Maurice said this weekend.
The top shutdown duo of Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba appears etched in stone, but after that it gets a bit blurry. Ben Chiarot was paired with Dustin Byfuglien during Saturday’s skate, while Joe Morrow was with Tyler Myers.
“I thought we were the first stars today in practice,” Myers cracked.
Dmitry Kulikov was with Tucker Poolman in what could be considered the extra pairing.
“We have the Trouba-Morrissey combination that has worked against the other teams’ best an awful lot. But teams now don’t want to play their best against (Adam) Lowry, against that pair. So, they split them, they move it around and make us work harder for it. So, there’s some pairings on our blue line that we think give us a more defensive look, and there’s some pairings that give us a more offensive look,” Maurice said.
“It’s not a big deal for them, the chemistry is nice. But because of injuries they do have chemistry with just about all those different pairings.”
Myers and Morrow played games with Byfuglien during the pre-season schedule, but it appears it’s now Chiarot’s turn.
“It’s nice. He’s one of the best in the league. So, I’m excited to get to match up with him. Life gets a little bit easier for you, he get things stopped and he moves the puck so well. Makes my job easy, just back him up, play my game, play physical and help him out with anything he needs,” Chiarot said.
Kulikov’s potential exclusion from the top six is just a product of getting him back up to game speed following off-season back surgery, Maurice said.
“He can play, he’s 100 per cent clear —clearly, he’s ready to go. We also think there’s more game for him, he’s going to get better,” he added.
Forward lines shaping up
Up front, the Jets forward lines seem to be settling in. At least for now.
Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler-Kyle Connor is set as the top line, while Bryan Little between Patrik Laine and Mathieu Perreault will begin the year as the second line. The shutdown trio of Lowry, Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev is also rock-solid.
That leaves the other line, which was comprised of Jack Roslovic, Nikolaj Ehlers and rookie Kristian Vesalainen during Saturday’s skate. Brendan Lemieux and Marko Dano also got looks during the pre-season, but they were dressed as the two extra forwards during Saturday’s skate.
11 stitches for Chiarot
It’s a bit early for Halloween, but Chiarot figures he’s already got his scary look for the season.
Chiarot took a puck to the face last Wednesday night in Minnesota and needed 11 stitches to close the wound near his mouth. His mug is now rather swollen and chewing any solid foods is a painful experience.
“Can’t really eat the last few days. Wife doesn’t find you too attractive. Guys are making fun of you. It’s OK. It’s hockey, get a couple stitches, you better be coming back in the game, that’s the way I look at it. If something’s not broken, you better be playing,” Chiarot said.
To add insult to injury, he returned to that pre-season game only to take a shot from teammate Kulikov off the back of his leg.
And then there were 28
The Manitoba Moose have thinned their herd.
Eight players were released from training camp Sunday as the Jets affiliate gets ready to begin its 76-game regular season Friday night in Iowa.
Forwards Cody Fowlie, Matt Ustaski and Colton Veloso and defencemen Jack Glover and Justin Woods have been assigned to their ECHL affiliate, the Jacksonville Icemen.
Forward Joey Ratelle was sent to the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL, while forward Hunter Fejes and goalie Tanner Jaillet were released from their tryouts.
The Moose have 16 forwards, nine defencemen and three goalies left in camp. They are expected to get another four skaters cut from the Jets early this week.
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.