WINNIPEG - The depth on the Winnipeg Jets roster is about to be tested again.
With Dustin Byfuglien and Nikolaj Ehlers already out of the line-up, the Jets were dealt another blow, as Tyler Myers will miss Friday's game against the Detroit Red Wings with a lower-body injury.
Myers sustained the injury in the third period of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Now with both Myers and Byfuglien out on that ride side of the Jets blue line, Paul Maurice expects things to look a bit different in Winnipeg's end.
Video: PREGAME | Sami Niku
"They both - in a different style of game - generate a fair amount and generate a fair amount of zone time. But in that right corner in our end of the ice, if they can get you in the corner, you're probably not coming out on them," Maurice said of Myers and Byfuglien.
"Your containment usually isn't quite as good. We want to move a little faster, move the puck a little faster, get to it. A smaller guy, Sami (Niku) goes in, get to it a little quicker, get it moved, get it off your stick, and get it moving north."
With Myers out, Sami Niku will draw into his first NHL action since Dec. 7. He last played at the American Hockey League level on Dec. 30, when the 22-year-old had two assists in a 4-0 Manitoba Moose win over the Colorado Eagles.
"I need to play simple. I need to play fast and play hard," said Niku.
"I'm pretty confident that I can play here. I can skate. I can pass. My defence could be a little bit better, but it's coming and I'm doing better."
Niku has played five games at the NHL level this season and so far has been held off the score sheet. But he's stepped into any role he's been given, whether it was the seven minutes he played against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 1, or the 19:11 he played a few nights later in a win over the New York Islanders.
"It's a whole lot easier to go in the line-up and play. All these guys that come up are playing big minutes with the American League team. They come up here and get shifted to a different role," said Maurice.
"It's easier if we can get him out there more, but they have to do enough good things to make that happen."
Video: PREGAME | Andrew Copp
After getting into Winnipeg after midnight following last night's game in Minnesota, the Jets didn't hold a morning skate, so warm-up will be the first indicator of what defensive pairings Maurice will go with against the Red Wings.
One thing is for sure though, Laurent Brossoit will start in goal.
It will be Brossoit's first start since earning his first career NHL shutout in Vancouver against the Canucks on Dec. 22. This season, Brossoit has an 8-1-1 record and a 0.939 save percentage.
Connor Hellebuyck has started seven consecutive games since the Jets came back from the holiday break.
"You'll start to see it tonight. From now until the end of March we knew our schedule would get stacked up and (Brossoit) is going to get more playing time," said Maurice.
"To get him into that one in four range. The idea with Connor is 'Is he fresh? Is he right? Is he in a rhythm?' That's been our priority."
Video: PREGAME | Kyle Connor
Brossoit was in goal when the Jets beat the Red Wings earlier this season, making 27 saves in a 2-1 victory at Little Caesars Arena back on Oct. 26.
Detroit has one win in their last nine games, going 1-5-2 in that span.
But the Jets expect a different kind of challenge from the Red Wings than what they faced last night against the Wild.
"Detroit is a pretty quick team. They have a bunch of guys - like (Dylan) Larkin and (Andreas) Athanasiou - that can really skate," said Copp. "It's all about how we approach the game and us dictating the pace and playing our game."
Video: PREGAME | Dmitry Kulikov
While the Jets got through the first half of the season relatively healthy (outside of Dmitry Kulikov's upper-body injury that kept him out for a month, and Copp's concussion), Copp said it feels like the injury bug is trying to make up for lost time.
That being said, it's nothing the majority of the players on the Jets roster haven't dealt with before.
"We missed (Mark Scheifele), (Adam Lowry), and (Jacob Trouba) for a while last year too," he said. "It's going to happen where you go through stretches where you have good health and stretches where you test your depth a little bit.
"Everyone has to step up a little bit… it will be a good opportunity for guys to show what they can do."
Puck drop is set for 7 pm CT.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets return home tonight to play the Detroit Red Wings in Winnipeg's second game in as many nights...The Jets lost 3-2 on the road against the Minnesota Wild last night...Winnipeg welcomes the Anaheim Ducks to Bell MTS Place on Sunday in the second game of the three-game homestand.
Winnipeg has won back-to-back games at home to improve to 15-6-2 at home this season...The Jets are tied for the third-most wins and the fourth-most points at home in the NHL...The Jets have the best power play at home in the NHL this season at 38.2%...Winnipeg's 26 power play goals at home this season are first in the NHL...The Jets are 13-for-26 (50.0%) on the power play in their last eight home games and have scored 13 of their past 14 power play goals on home ice...The Jets have a 47-13-4 record at Bell MTS Place during the past two seasons, making it the toughest building in the NHL for opposing teams to play.
READ THE FULL GAME NOTES
The Jets had 66 shot attempts last night, compared to Minnesota's 44...The Jets didn't allow a shot in the third period...Minnesota blocked 22 of the Jets' shot attempts, which was the third-most shots the Jets have had blocked this season...The Jets have been the better possession team in six of their last seven games and have a combined 53.5% Corsi For percentage in the seven games.
The Jets are in the midst of nine games (2-2-0) in 16 days leading into the player and all-star break from Jan. 20-27...After the all-star break, the Jets also have a busy schedule with 11 games in 20 days.
Against the East
The Jets are 10-5-1 against Eastern Conference teams this season, including 3-3-1 against the Atlantic Division...Tonight is the Jets' only game against an Eastern Conference team in their eight games before the player/all-star break...Winnipeg went 19-7-6 against the Eastern Conference last season, including a 10-3-3 record versus the Atlantic Division and 9-4-3 record against the Metropolitan Division...Blake Wheeler leads the Jets with 21 points (1G, 20A) in 16 games against the Eastern Conference, while Mark Scheifele has 19 points (11G, 8A) in 16 games.
Last night and tonight marks the sixth of 10 back-to-back sets the Jets have this season...Winnipeg is 4-2-0 in the first game and 3-2-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season...Last season, the Jets went 4-3-2 in the first game of nine back-to-backs and 4-4-1 in the second game.
Mark Scheifele scored in the third period last night to tie Patrik Laine for the team lead with 24 goals...Both players have played 43 games...Laine has done most of his scoring so far in November with 18 goals, while Scheifele scored six goals in October, seven in November, nine in December and once in January...Scheifele has scored 15 goals at home, while Laine has 16 goals on the road...Scheifele has surpassed the 23 goals he scored in 60 games last season and is closing in on his career-high of 32 goals from the 2016-17 season...Laine's 24 goals are the most he's scored before the all-star break of a season in his career.
Brandon Tanev scored his ninth goal of the season last night, which establishes a career high for him...He had eight goals in 61 games last season...He has distributed his scoring with five goals on the road and four goals at home.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has started all seven games the Jets have played since the Christmas break, which is his longest streak of consecutive starts this season...He's also played 10 of Winnipeg's last 11 games.
The NHL announced the rosters for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game last week and Jets forwards Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele were selected to the Central Division team...Wheeler, who is making his second consecutive all-star appearance, leads the Jets in points (55) and also leads the Jets and ranks tied for second in the NHL in assists (48)...Scheifele is making his first all-star appearance...He is tied for the team lead in goals (24) and is second on the Jets in points (54) assists (30)...He is also in the top 15 in the NHL in goals and points...Forward Patrik Laine is on the Last Man In ballot, as fans vote on the final member of each all-star team...The NHL announced on Saturday that head coach Paul Maurice has been selected as the head coach of the Central Division team, based on the Jets being in first place in the Central Division at the midway point of the season.