Lost in all the controversy surrounding Dustin Byfuglien’s crosscheck to the head of J.T. Miller was the fact the Winnipeg Jets lost in regulation last night, falling 3-2 to the Rangers on a goal by Chris Kreider with less than four minutes remaining.
It was the second straight painful loss for the Jets, who fell 4-3 to Chicago on Sunday on a goal by Jonathan Toews with just 31 seconds remaining, and it dealt a serious blow to Winnipeg’s chances of making the playoffs.
“This is brutal, to be honest,” said forward Mathieu Perreault, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “It’s unacceptable, really, at this time of the season. We’ve just got to regroup and put it behind us because it’s going to do us no good to keep thinking about those two games.
“We’ve got to bear down, especially at the end of the games. It’s unacceptable.”
As we noted yesterday, the Jets had a comfortable playoff cushion coming out of the All-Star break. Tomorrow, they could be bumped out of the final wild-card spot if the Kings beat the Oilers at Staples Center. According to Sports Club Stats, their postseason chances have fallen below 50/50 to 48.6 percent.
It’s estimated the Jets will have to go around 3-2-0 in their final five games to get in. They have two home games remaining, versus Vancouver and Calgary, and three road contests left, in Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado.
Winnipeg is now 13-12-4 since the All-Star break.
Sounds as though Andrew Shaw has avoided a date with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
Per Sportsnet, Shaw won’t face any supplemental discipline after headbutting the Islanders’ Brock Nelson during the second period of Chicago’s 4-1 win over the Isles on Tuesday night.
Shaw was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the incident. Nelson appeared no worse for wear and took regular shifts for the remainder of the contest, finishing with 17:11 TOI.
Shaw, 23, does have a disciplinary history — he was suspended three games in April 2012 for charging Coyotes’ goaltender Mike Smith — and Chicago has been punished twice already this season; Dan Carcillo was given a six-game suspension for cross-checking Mathieu Perreault, and Joakim Nordstrom was given two games for boarding Oliver Ekman-Larsson last week.
As for why Shaw didn’t get suspended…
For most of his tenure with the Winnipeg Jets, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has been fairly passive when it comes to making trades. Even his recent Evander Kane blockbuster only happened after an alleged incident with Dustin Byfuglien.
So while the Jets’ decision to acquire forward Jiri Tlusty from Carolina on Wednesday in exchange for a third-round pick and conditional sixth rounder might be just the kind of move you would expect from a team in the hunt for a playoff spot, it is particularly noteworthy given Cheveldayoff’s history.
Cheveldayoff doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Tlusty, but he did view this as more than just a means to fill a void left by Mathieu Perreault’s significant lower-body injury.
“It is a message to the room that we’re all-in, here,” Cheveldayoff said.
The question now is if Cheveldayoff will chose to emphasize that message further by pulling the trigger on anything else. Getting Tlusty certainly helps, but the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild have bolstered their rosters as well and that’s likely just the beginning for the Jets’ rivals as we still have five days of trading left.
With a 31-20-11 record, the Jets have a four-point edge over the Minnesota Wild in the battle for a playoff spot. That being said, Winnipeg has also played in two more games.
Jiri Tlusty has been traded to Winnipeg, with a third-round pick in 2016 and either a fifth- or sixth-round pick in 2015 going back to Carolina. (If the Jets make the playoffs, it’s a fifth-round pick. If not, sixth.)
Tlusty, 26, has 13 goals and 10 assists in 52 games for the Hurricanes this season. A pending unrestricted free agent, he fully expected he could be dealt prior to Monday’s deadline.
In Winnipeg, Tlusty figures to be a second- or third-line winger. With Mathieu Perreault out, his addition could allow Dustin Byfuglien to return to defense.
Looks like Kevin Cheveldayoff might soon be back at the trade table.
Just one week after orchestrating the Evander Kane blockbuster, the Jets GM could be forced to make more moves after Wednesday’s news that forward Mathieu Perreault would likely be done for the remainder of the regular season with a “significant” lower-body injury, while Drew Stafford — who came over in the Kane deal — is day-to-day.
The Perreault loss is big. He sits third on the team in goals, with 18, gets time on the first-unit power play and averages 16:38 TOI per game. The 27-year-old also seemed on his way to surpassing his career high in points — 43, set last year in Anaheim — and provided center depth for a Jets team that’s not overly strong down the middle, and now boasts Brian Little and 21-year-old Mark Scheifele as its top-two centers.
Stafford, meanwhile, got derailed before ever really getting started.
The longtime Sabre was hurt in just his third game as a Jet, and his loss is significant as well. Between Stafford, Perreault and Kane, the Jets have lost depth and goalscoring ability at forward and will now be forced to return Dustin Byfuglien to the wing, even though the All-Star defenseman has repeatedly expressed his desire to stick on the blueline.
(Byfuglien’s move to forward will coincide with the length of time Stafford is out, per multiple reports.)
In a related move, the Jets have called up Carl Klingberg from AHL St. John’s. The Swedish winger has 10 games of NHL experience under his belt, but has yet to make his season debut.