Weakened, injury-plagued Jets swimming with hangry Sharks squad

SAN JOSE — The Winnipeg Jets, not exactly in a great mood these days, are going to come face-to-face with a snarly San Jose Sharks squad tonight.

Both teams have underperformed to date. Winnipeg is 6-7-0 and can’t seem to get any traction, as was the case in a disappointing 7-4 loss on Tuesday night in Anaheim to begin this three-game road trip that concludes Saturday night in Las Vegas.

And San Jose is just 4-8-1, having lost three-straight games on the road to Toronto, Ottawa and Boston, in which they were outscored 14-4. Coach Pete DeBoer was tossed from the last game against the Bruins.

“I think they had about four guys left on their bench by the end of that last game. The coach wasn’t one of them. So, yeah, we’re getting their best tonight,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said during the morning skate at SAP Center.

“For both teams, right? Both teams are on the outside looking in. It matters now. We don’t get to wind it up in February, both teams gotta go.”

The Jets lineup is still very much up in the air. Adam Lowry (suspension), Patrik Laine (injury) are both out, and Bryan Little is a game-time decision. Nathan Beaulieu’s season debut will also have to wait, as he’s not yet ready. They join a group that also includes injured forwards Mark Letestu and Mason Appleton.

CJ Suess has been called up from the Manitoba Moose and will likely make his NHL debut. The 25-year-old has one goal in eight games with the Moose this year.

“It’s something you dream about your entire life and it’s really exciting,” said Suess, who got the call yesterday following Moose practice in Winnipeg, flew to Minneapolis last night, flew to San Francisco this morning, then made the hour-long drive to San Jose and got to the rink just before morning skate began.

CJ Suess has been called up from the Manitoba Moose and could make his NHL debut tonight. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)</p>
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CJ Suess has been called up from the Manitoba Moose and could make his NHL debut tonight. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“You always dream about being able to make that call to your parents. It’s really nice, but there’s still another thing I’d like to show (his mother) and that’s playing in a game, so we’ll see.”

If Little can’t go, the Jets would have only 11 forwards available, meaning seven defencemen would dress.

“(Little) feels good today…. We’re not going to prep him twice so we’ll just put him in the warmup and if he feels as strong as he does now he’ll be a player for us,” said Maurice.

Connor Hellebuyck starts in net for the Jets. He was pulled midway through the game against the Ducks after giving up five goals on 19 shots and will be looking for a rebound game against the Sharks.

“They’ve got really, really dangerous players. Their D’s up in the rush, especially (Brent) Burns and (Erik) Karlsson. Those turnovers are going to be important to minimize tonight,” said forward Andrew Copp.

“We want to concentrate on our game and how he play and how we play fast and make sure we make them defend us, but they definitely have some highly skilled players that will make them pay if you give them the opportunity.”

Laine is still dealing with a nagging lower-body issue and could be available for Saturday night’s game in Las Vegas.

“There’s a chance. We just want to make sure we get ahead of it and we’re not dealing with this thing all year. And we feel that we got to it early enough that we shouldn’t have to,” said Maurice.


Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

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