WINNIPEG – After shutting out the Minnesota Wild Friday in Saint Paul, the Winnipeg Jets have returned home to begin to begin a season-long stay here at MTS Centre.
The Jets – 12-7-1 at home this season, where they will spend the next three weeks – are just three points back of a playoff spot, and will face the two divisional foes they’re chasing in back-to-back games this week, Monday against the Colorado Avalanche and Thursday against the Nashville Predators, who currently hold the second and final wild-card berth.
The Jets also have a game in hand on the Avalanche, who they trail by two points.
“It’s so much more fun coming to the rink when you win,” Mathieu Perreault said. “Guys are smiling, you go on the ice and guys are feeling better about themselves.
“Our work ethic in general [has been great]. Knowing that we have a couple injuries, guys that are out of our lineup and are key pieces that we have to replace. The work ethic, the way we did it (Friday) was definitely a great feeling.”
Centering a line with Nikolaj Ehlers and Joel Armia, Perreault was terrific in the win. In 17 minutes and three seconds of ice time – with the vast majority of it coming at even strength – Perreault
was credited with just one shot, one hit and one block; and yet, he was the most talked-about Jet in the dressing room afterward for his commitment to the cause and tireless work ethic at both
ends of the ice.
One play in particular stood out among the rest. Covering the point in the second period, Perreault lost on edge, fell down, got back up again, hurried to the high slot and dove, using every last inch of his 5-foot-10 frame, to break up a shot attempt from Wild defenceman Marco Scandella.
You know, a goal-saving type play – the kind that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but is vitally important both in the moment, and for a team looking to re-establish its workmanlike identity.
That’s what it takes.
“He’s a much more complete player now than when he got to us,” Maurice said. “He went out to the wing and had a bit of success. Now he’s come back to centre, his natural position, and probably the one he likes the most and he’s been great. Defensively, just all parts of his game [are built on] on sheer effort and his determination. Then there’s the finish and playmaking. He’s one of those guys that everyone likes to play with. If you’re playing with Mathieu you’re going to get the puck. He’ll make plays for you.”
CORMIER & LIPON RECALLED
With upper-body injuries to both Adam Lowry and Drew Stafford, the Jets have recalled forwards Patrice Cormier and JC Lipon from the Manitoba Moose. In a corresponding move, Stafford and Lowry have both been placed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 14, meaning they are eligible to
return Thursday vs. Nashville.
Neither player participated in today’s practice.
“We’ll have a better idea by tomorrow of (how long they’ll be out),” Maurice said. “You get better information as how go on exactly what you’re dealing with. I was hopeful that they would feel a lot better the next day and they didn’t.”
Lipon has had a strong season so far, recording eight goals, 17 points and 45 penalty minutes in 30 games with the Jets’ AHL affiliate. The 22-year-old was on the verge of making the big club out of camp after appearing in four pre-season games earlier this year, but was one of the final few
Cormier, meanwhile, has been recalled for the second time this season. He appeared in one game on his earlier stint, registering one shot in less than four minutes of ice time Nov. 7 vs. Philadelphia.
“I’ll tell (General Manager) Kevin (Cheveldayoff) what I’m thinking with the lines and the hole I need filled and what I’m looking for from a player,” Maurice said prior to the recall. “Then the guys that watch that team every day, that know where each player is at, will pick the guy for us.”
LATE HITS: Mark Scheifele remains out with a lower-body injury, but did get some solo work in today at MTS Centre, skating for upwards of an hour. ... Ondrej Pavelec was also out early, continuing his on-ice rehabilitation with Goaltending Coach Wade Flaherty. Pavelec has missed 24 games with a knee injury, and while it was expected he would be out at least this long, there is currently no timetable for a return.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com