GAME DAY: Jets vs Senators
6:00 pm CT - TV: SN 360, SN1; Radio: TSN 1290by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com
WINNIPEG - What a difference a couple days can make.
Just two nights ago, Joe Morrow and Dustin Byfuglien were part of the six defencemen the Winnipeg Jets (36-19-3) put on the ice against the Colorado Avalanche.
Tonight in the season series finale against the Ottawa Senators, neither of them will be in the line-up.
Morrow will miss two-to-three weeks with a lower-body injury while Byfuglien's ailment is expected to be short-term.
"The plan would be that he's out tonight so we make him available for the game in Colorado," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, referring to Wednesday's game against the Avalanche.
"It's another minor (injury) that won't help the original one. The original one is fine enough to play, it's strong and it's getting stronger. It just set us up that he wasn't going to be able to perform very well. We think in a few days he'll settle right in."
With Morrow and Byfuglien out, Dmitry Kulikov and Sami Niku will draw into the line-up.
Based on this morning's pre-game skate, Niku will be paired with Ben Chiarot while Kulikov will skate with Tyler Myers.
"When you have a young guy like that come in, you just want to support him, talk to him, and try to help him out as much as you can," said Chiarot. "I'll do my part in the D-zone to make things easier for him. He's obviously here because he's got great offensive tools and he moves the puck really well. Just try and get him the puck in some good offensive situations and let him do his thing."
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Niku last played with the Jets on Jan. 28 in Philadelphia, registering two shots in 13:25 of ice time. Since then he's also played in one game with the Manitoba Moose, a 4-2 win over the Chicago Wolves on Feb. 13.
Chiarot - a veteran of 281 NHL games - says it only feels like yesterday when he was the young defenceman being mentored by Byfuglien.
"This is my fifth year now and it seems like I just started last week. It's gone by pretty fast but it's been great," said Chiarot. "I've had great partners over the time I've been here and I'll try and keep that going with Sami."
Maurice feels that mentorship can do a lot for both the young player as well as the veteran. It can help the older player see the game in a different way.
"When you have to teach something it's a lot different. You're put in a situation to be aware of so many more things that are happening. You become aware of your partner," said Maurice.
"He's talking to him on the bench. That's where all the best coaching comes from. The guy sitting beside you. All the small little details that aren't the coach's area of expertise. Those are the things they learn from players."
Laurent Brossoit will get the start in goal for the Jets. His last outing came against these Senators one week ago at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Jets goaltender allowed five goals in that game to suffer just his third loss of the season.
But Maurice says there are things the Jets can do to help out their goaltender in ways they didn't back in Ottawa.
"Our gap, not just our defencemen, our defensive five were so far off the puck when we didn't have it we gave easy rushes," said Maurice. "We created chaos for ourselves by not killing plays early by not keeping a tight gap."
At 21-31-5, the Senators sit 31st in the league standings, 20 points back of the playoff line.
But Maurice knows that can change the way Ottawa plays.
"Five-on-five going into that game, they were a better offensive five-on-five team than we are. You wouldn't expect that," said Maurice, pointing to the 123 goals the Senators have scored at five-on-five compared to Winnipeg's 121.
"They're offensive game is built that if you give them room, they're going to make plays. They're not worried about the two points in the standings, so they're putting that thing cross ice and they've got enough skill, that if it's on the tape, they can finish. For all the talk about our offensive game and the skilled players we have, they score more goals five-on-five than we do."
Puck drop is set for 6 pm CT.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets finish a three-game homestand tonight when they host the Ottawa Senators at Bell MTS Place...The Jets are 1-1 during the homestand after losing 4-1 to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday...After three days off, the Jets embark on a three-game road trip next week, beginning Wednesday in Colorado.
Winnipeg is tied for the second-best home record in the NHL this season at 21-7-3...The Jets had their nine-game point streak (8-0-1) at home come to an end on Thursday night...The Jets have the best power play at home in the NHL this season at 32.6%, but have gone three consecutive home games without a power play goal (0-for-11)...Winnipeg's 31 power play goals at home this season is second in the NHL...The Jets have a 53-13-5 record at Bell MTS Place during the past two seasons, making it the toughest building in the NHL for opposing teams to play...The Jets have scored 119 goals at home this season, which is second in the NHL, and have outscored their opposition 102-52 in their 21 wins.
The Jets have gone 0-for-17 on the power play in their past six games...It's their longest stretch of the season without a power play goal...The last time the Jets went six games without a power play was Oct. 28-Nov. 6/16...The franchise record of most consecutive games without a power play goal is 12 games, which occurred from Feb. 8-Mar. 14/02...Winnipeg's past 20 goals have been scored at even strength or shorthanded.
The Jets are 15-8-1 against Eastern Conference teams this season, including 6-5-1 against the Atlantic Division...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...Mark Scheifele leads the Jets with 29 points (16G, 13A) in 24 games against the Eastern Conference, while Blake Wheeler has 28 points (3G, 25A) in 24 games...Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 11-6-0 with a 2.75 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 17 games against the Eastern Conference this season.
After beating the Anaheim Ducks 9-3 on Feb. 2, the Jets have been held to two goals or less in four of their six games since then...Winnipeg is averaging 2.3 goals per game in their past six games and have a minus-seven goal differential in those games...The Jets have allowed three goals or more in nine of their past 10 games.
With tomorrow's game, the Jets finish a stretch of 11 games (5-4-1) in 20 days since the all-star break...The Jets enjoy three days off after tomorrow's game, which is their last three-day break between games this season...Winnipeg went 6-3-0 in nine games in 16 days leading into the break...The Jets play their last 34 games of the regular season in 69 days.
Dominating the Dot
The Jets have won 68-of-107 (63.6%) faceoffs in their past two games...Adam Lowry won 15-of-18 (83.3%) of his faceoffs on Thursday, which was two less than his season high of 17 faceoff wins (Oct. 18 at VAN)...Lowry has won more than 50% of his faceoffs in four of his past five games...He climbed a tie for fourth in the NHL with a 57.6% faceoff winning percentage...At 25 years old, Lowry is the youngest player in the NHL's top 10 for faceoff winning percentage.
Brandon Tanev scored his 12th goal of the season on Thursday to grow his career high for goals...He also has a career high 22 points and matched a career high with 10 assists...Tanev has expanded his offensive prowess with a career-high 96 shots and career-best 12.5% shooting percentage...Eleven of his 12 goals this season have come at even strength.
Mark Scheifele has a career-best 20.3% shooting percentage with 30 goals on 148 shots...He's eighth among NHL shooting percentage leaders...He's averaging a career-high 3:36 of power play ice time per game and has reached seven power play goals in four consecutive seasons...He needs one more power play goal to match the career-high eight power play goals he had last season.