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Winnipeg Jets providing blueprint on handling devastating injuries

The injury bug paid a visit to Winnipeg and left a six-to-eight week piece of adversity on the doorstep of the Jets on Monday

The Jets announced that top defenseman Jacob Trouba will be sidelined for up to two months with a lower-body injury he picked up last Thursday, handing the Central Division-leading Jets the third such lengthy diagnosis this season.

Losing your No. 1 center and your top-line defenseman in a span of a month is less than favorable, but if any team has shown the blueprint to dealing with seemingly massive blows to a roster this season, it’s the Jets.

They’ll certainly need to refer to it going forward.

Perhaps the most impressive trait when it comes to their ascent to the top of the Central has been their ability to navigate the harsh realities that come with each and every NHL season.

Injuries have, are, and always will be a mainstay for every team. It’s a fact of life in the NHL and one teams try to prepare for with depth. Some succeed while others fail.

The Jets are proof this season that the latter is attainable despite some significant knocks to key players.

Here is the lengthy list of other Jets who have gone down this season:

  • Mark Scheifele — injured after falling into the end boards following a hit from Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson in the second period on Dec. 27. Diagnosis: 6-8 weeks with a shoulder injury
  • Adam Lowry — an upper-body injury likely sustained against the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 5. Has missed eight games (will return to the lineup on Tuesday).
  • Dmitry Kulikov — injured after getting drilled from behind by San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl on Jan. 23. He’s out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. (UPDATE: Kulikov could play Thursday, Jets coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday).
  • Brandon Tanev — missed seven games after picking up a lower-body injury on Dec. 29 against the New York Islanders.
  • Toby Enstrom — missed eight weeks and 23 games with a lower-body injury he sustained back in October.
  • Dustin Byfuglien —  sidelined for 10 games after a Dec. 9 tilt with the Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Steve Mason —  missed seven games with a concussion in late November and early December and has now missed a further six with another concussion.

Every team deals with injuries. Not every team deals with injuries well. The Jets have dealt with the injury bug in impressive fashion.

Mark Scheifele’s injury could have been a season-altering blow. Losing your No.1 center isn’t a desirable thing to have happen, and Scheifele was having a career year and helping those around him do the same.

But in the 12 games he’s missed since getting injured, the Jets are 8-2-2.

“You look at what we’ve been able to do with (Scheifele) out of the lineup,” Lowry said on Monday in Winnipeg. “You lose your No.1 center, who was having an all-star campaign when he went down, and it seems like (Blake) Wheeler just slots into the middle and our team gets rolling.”

Wheeler’s move from right wing to center has been exceptional in Scheifele’s absence and has allowed for the boat to be a little less rocked down the middle for the Jets.

Trouba’s injury comes on the heels of the Jets losing Kulikov indefinitely.

“A key piece, right? It’s not just losing the player, he’s also playing right at his peak. His game in Anaheim was outstanding. He was really good,” Maurice said shortly after confirming reports of Trouba’s injury. “If we have an area of depth, and we do, it’s right defense. So that’s the one place if we have a guy go down, that we have players there who want the minutes, that can handle the minutes.”

The Jets will slot Tyler Myers up with Josh Morrissey in attempt to fill the minutes Trouba was commanding. Myers has shown he can handle the workload.

“Obviously (Trouba) is a big loss,” Myers said. “We’ve dealt with injuries the past month here. For us as a group, it’s just focusing on the same thing we have and that’s our game plan and executing.” 

Helping the Jets with Trouba out will be the defensive corps’ familiarity with one another. The Jets blue line was ravaged last year, including Myers, who was limited to just 11 games because of a groin injury.

“You can take it back to the last few years since I’ve been here. Everyone on the back end has played with a lot of different partners throughout my time here. We’re pretty used to switching things up. It’s just a matter of talking it out and getting used to each other quicker rather than later.” 

The Jets will have to be quick learners again.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien finally ends 33-game goalless drought (Video)

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Dustin Byfuglien has been no stranger to scoring goals in his NHL career. He’s hit double digits in nine of the last 10 seasons, but this year he’s gone cold.

Entering Friday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, Byfuglien had gone goalless for the Winnipeg Jets through 29 games. That drought came to an end 9:27 into game No. 30 and snapped a personal 33-game stretch without a goal.

You could see in the celebration just how relieved Byfuglien, who miss nearly a month with a lower-body injury, was to finally see that zero on the stat sheet finally change to a one in the goal category. His last one before Friday? March 30 against the Anaheim Ducks.

While it may have taken some time for his first goal, Byfuglien’s still been productive for the Jets, handing out 15 assists and leading the team’s blue liners in points per game with 0.52. If this is the start of him getting back to his usual goal scoring ways, that will be mean very good things for Winnipeg.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy

Jets’ Byfuglien still looking for No. 1

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Dustin Byfuglien looks to be pissed off in more ways than one these days.

After a slow start to the season in the physical department (and in his game overall), the Winnipeg Jets heavyweight defenseman regained his train-wreck-causing self over the past week, putting his signature beating on some unfortunate souls that drifted into his path of destruction.

Exhibit A: Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl:

Exhibit B: Philadelphia Flyers forward Jordan Weal:

Even his own teammates aren’t safe from the carnage.

In his obliteration of Weal in the above clip, you can see Jets forward Kyle Connor becoming an innocent victim of the collateral damage.

Jets captain Blake Wheeler made mention of Big Buff’s angered demeanour during their homestand last week, and as they say in Winnipeg: angry Buff is the best Buff.

Indeed, but since Byfuglien arrived in Winnipeg with the rest of the former Atlanta Thrashers in 2011, fans have also seen the other side of his game – a productive one.

At the moment, however, all fans want for Christmas is Byfuglien to find the back of the net.

This season, goal-scoring has been non-existent from the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Minnesota native, who has chipped in for 10 assists in 20 games.

It took Brent Burns 21 games to score his first goal of the season for the San Jose Sharks, a marker that came — mercifully for the man who has scored 56 goals over the past two seasons — on Friday night.

Byfuglien plays in his 21st game of the season on Saturday night, ironically against Burns’ Sharks in San Jose. Perhaps Santa will come a month early.

Byfuglien has had no shortage of chances recent with 16 shots in this past four games and nearly scored twice in a 4-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

Fair warning to Santa: you don’t want to piss off Dustin Byfuglien.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Hendricks spend day off capturing monster fish (Photo)

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The Winnipeg Jets had some down time on Tuesday after beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 for their first victory of the season. Matt Hendricks and Dustin Byfuglien took advantage and spent the day fishing — and boy did they come home with a catch.

With help from fishing company Sturgeon Slayers, the Jets teammates took to the Fraser River in British Columbia and caught this monster.

The players couldn’t take it home because sturgeon are a threatened species, so the monster was released after posing for some photos.

Of course, this accomplishment didn’t happen without a bit of grumbling from some Jets fans. They were upset that Byfuglien, who sat out Monday’s game in Edmonton with a lower-body injury, was fishing instead of remaining in his hotel room covered in bubble wrap and hot towels. Head coach Paul Maurice, however, did not care.

“He had treatment. [He] did what he needed to do. [It’s a] soft-tissue issue,” Maurice said on Wednesday via the Winnipeg Free Press. “None at all. Just a little bit jealous, but no issue at all.”

Byfuglien will take the morning skate in Vancouver on Thursday but will not play against the Canucks. He’s considered day-to-day. Hendricks has been on injured reserve since the start of the season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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PHT Morning Skate: Patrick Kane’s former junior squad pulls his name from training camp team

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The OHL’s London Knights had planned to honor Patrick Kane by naming one of their four training camp groups after him, but GM Basil McRae announced that there will no longer be a Team Kane. The former Knights player is reportedly facing rape allegations. The police confirmed they are investigating an incident that allegedly occurred at Kane’s residence. (London Free Press)

Quebec City has reached the third phase of the NHL expansion process, but this still might not end up going Quebecor’s way. (Sportsnet)

Allan Muir created a hockey version of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Sports Illustrated)

With the start of training camp around the corner, what the Winnipeg Jets should do with Dustin Byfuglien is still up for debate. (Winnipeg Sun)

Wayne Simmonds is optimistic about the Philadelphia Flyers going into the 2015-16 campaign, but he feels they have to “work out our inconsistencies.” (Yahoo)

The University of Alberta’s hockey team will play against the Edmonton Oilers’ rookies, including Connor McDavid, on Sept. 16. (Edmonton Sun)