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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The depth of their blue-line ensemble continues to pay off for the Winnipeg Jets, who lost the services of Nathan Beaulieu to an undisclosed injury but quickly inserted Joe Morrow into the lineup on Wednesday night.
He’d waited in the wings since being cleared to play Saturday, but joined the squad for some Duck hunting at the Honda Center, skating on the left side with Jacob Trouba.
Morrow, out for 14 games with a lower-body injury suffered Feb. 14 against the Colorado Avalanche, said life as a spectator — the second time he’s been injured this season — was discouraging.
“There’s no good time to get injured and the timing of everything, when a couple of key guys go down and there’s opportunities to be had, it’s definitely frustrating. Now that things are on the upside, hopefully I can get a couple of games in here and get ready for the playoff push,” said Morrow, who entered the night with one goal and five assists in 39 games.
Dustin Byfuglien (lower body) has been down for 15 games, while Trouba’s regular partner, Josh Morrissey (upper body), has been shelved for 11. Neither is on the team’s three-game southern trip. Head coach Paul Maurice has relied heavily on Beaulieu and youngster Sami Niku during the final push to the post-season.
Beaulieu may have been hurt when Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford got the better of him in a scrap Monday. He also took a a couple of hard checks during the game. Beaulieu played 10 consecutive games after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the NHL trade deadline Feb. 25. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Winnipeg also has defenceman Bogdan Kiselevich, picked up from the Florida Panthers at the deadline, while Manitoba Moose regulars Tucker Poolman, Cam Schilling and Nelson Nogier have suited up for emergency duty.
The Ducks are seventh in the eight-team Pacific Division and will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign.
The squad endured a painful 12-game losing streak from Dec. 18 to Jan. 17, a horrid stretch that cost head coach Randy Carlyle his job.
He was replaced on a interim basis by general manager Bob Murray.
But the Ducks, winners of six of their past nine as of Wednesday, are a different group than the one the Jets throttled 9-3 in early February, forward Jakob Silfverberg said.
“It’s the first time in my seven seasons not going to the post-season, so it’s been a tough year,” Silfverberg said.
“But I think we’re playing with a completely different confidence level, we’re making plays and scoring some goals, so it’s been working a lot different.”
The man behind the mic Wednesday answering questions on behalf of the Ducks was assistant coach Mark Morrison, formerly a longtime staffer with the Jets organization.
Morrison is in his second year in Anaheim after spending five seasons as an assistant for Winnipeg’s AHL affiliates, the Manitoba Moose (2015-17) and previously the St. John’s IceCaps (2011-15). He’s watched as some of the key prospects he coached have developed into major NHL contributors.
“It’s nice to see. A lot of these guys passed on through, and you saw the hard work that they put in. It’s rewarding,” Morrison said.
“You go back to when the American league team was in St. John’s, it was about ice time… the development process there is the right way to do it, for sure.”
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).