NASHVILLE, TN -- The Winnipeg Jets will be without veteran defenceman Toby Enstrom when they close out a five-game road trip in Nashville against the Predators.
"He had to get home to Sweden for a family situation that's come up briefly with the full and complete support of the Winnipeg Jets organization," head coach Paul Maurice said. "We're hopeful that he comes back and it's a positive result, and we get him back real soon. But I don't know when he's going to be able to return."
Enstrom, 32, has played over 20 minutes in all but one game this season. To help fill those minutes, Maurice changed up the defensive pairs at practice Thursday, putting Ben Chiarot with Dustin Byfuglien, Josh Morrissey with Jacob Trouba, and Paul Postma with Mark Stuart.
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Postma
"Toby is a big part of this defence," said Chiarot. "He's a leader on the team, he's a big minute guy for us on the back end. It's a big hole, but everyone will pick up the slack and try to pick those minutes up."
But it wasn't only the defensive pairs that were changed. Maurice also changed up the forward lines, including reuniting the line of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, and Blake Wheeler.
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
"It's all about balancing everything out. It's not about one player or one line," said Maurice. "We've got a number of guys out of our line-up. There are different skill sets on each player, different levels of experience, so that has to get balanced out. We want to get enough speed balanced out as well, that's important too.
"It's all about balance and trying to give also players a chance to play their best game."
Nikolaj Ehlers says the group focused on trying to generate more offense after the 3-1 loss in Minnesota saw only 16 shots on goal from the Jets.
"We can easily do that. It's mostly we come in the zone and try to do something else, an extra pass, instead of just getting the puck to the net," said Ehlers. "We need to get the shots through, the D need to get the shot through to the net. They can only do that with the forwards getting to the net.
"We have to start doing that, and I think it's going to start tomorrow."
Video: PRACTICE | Nikolaj Ehlers
The loss to Minnesota was the fourth consecutive defeat the Jets suffered on the season-long road trip. It doesn't get any easier Friday night at Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators are 7-1-1 this season.
Overall, Nashville has points in nine of their last eleven games, and are 7-2-2 in that span.
The first meeting of the season between the two clubs also means the first chance for the Jets to see how PK Subban changes the Predators defensive group.
"Even to begin with, they're a pretty offensive skilled team. You add a guy like Subban and that's only going to help their offensive game," Chiarot said.
"To finish the trip with the win would be the goal right now… Get a win here, get a good feeling back in the room, and head home, it could be a good momentum builder for us going home."
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets finish a five-game road trip tonight at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville in the first of four games against the Predators this season… The Jets enter tonight's game after a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, which pushed Winnipeg's losing streak to four games…Nashville has won two in a row and are 7-2-2 in November…The two teams meet again on Sunday in Winnipeg in the back half of a weekend home-and-home set, which begins a three-game homestand for the Jets.
We Meet Again
This weekend's home-and-home series against Nashville is the last of three such home-and-home sets the Jets will play this season and third of four occurrences on the schedule in which Winnipeg will play the same team in back-to-back games…All of the back-to-back games against the same opponent occur before the Christmas break…The Jets are 1-2-1 in home-and-home games this season, including 0-1-1 in the road portion.
tonight is Winnipeg's ninth game against a Central Division foe this season and second of three in a row…The Jets are 4-3-1 against Central Division teams this season and four of the first eight games have been decided by one goal…The Jets are in the midst of playing five of seven games against Central Division opponents.
On the Road Again
When the Jets are finished this trip, they will have played 10 of 13 games away from MTS Centre…The Jets are 3-7-2 on the road this season and have lost a season high five in a row on the road (0-4-1)…The franchise's longest road losing streak came back in 2001 when they lost eight games from Nov. 1-18.
The Jets are 5-6-2 in November, during which they have played a league-high 13 games in 23 days…Winnipeg has already surpassed the four games they won in all of last November when they earned the least of amount of points in the NHL during that month with a 4-9-1 record (nine points)…Prior to last season, the Jets franchise had a .500 or better points percentage in November for 11 straight seasons.
Team Quick Hits
- The Jets lead the NHL with 137 power play shots and are averaging 1.8 shots per power play.
- Winnipeg is a perfect 6-0 when leading after the second period, but have trailed after the second period in four consecutive games.
- The Jets are 1-for-11 (9.1%) on the power play in their last five games…Blake Wheeler's power play goal on Wednesday was the first time the Jets scored a power play goal in their last five games.
- Winnipeg has won less than 40 per cent of the face-offs in each of their last four games, including a season-low 34 per cent on Wednesday.
- The Jets have scored one goal in each of their last three games and all three have been scored in the third period…Winnipeg's 28 goals in the third period are tied with the New York Rangers for first in the NHL…Six of the Jets last eight goals have been scored in the third period.