A break before the homestand
The Jets have enjoyed a few of days off since they returned home from the two-game Western road swing through Vancouver and Calgary on Friday night. They have had a chance to reflect on that roadtrip and regroup before they take on this next three-game home-stand starting Wednesday night.
"I think it's been good for us," said coach Claude Noel. "We may lose a bit of rhythm but I think it'll be good because it seems that it's been really busy for us and really constant. The break has been a catch your breath, a breath of fresh air for us."
The team gathered at the MTS IcePlex for a lighthearted practice that wrapped up in a practice game. Near the end of the energized practice, Dustin Byfuglien blasted a slapshot that shattered the pain of glass behind the net bringing the spectators (two buses of school kids) to their feet cheering.
"I think the players are really looking forward to playing," said coach Claude Noel. "I noticed the enthusiasm early in the practice. I thought it was really good, we had some really good energy. It shows me the players are passionate to play."
It's no secret that the Jets have been a stronger team inside the MTS Centre but coach Noel said, it shouldn't matter where we play right now. A win is a win and the Jets need wins anywhere they can get them.
"At this time of the year I don't think it matters, the guys just want to play," said Noel. "I think we'd like to re-play those games on the road. We're more comfortable at home there's no question but I think we're more focused on winning games."
Zach Bogosian did not skate today with the team but was on the ice for a short time yesterday morning. Coach Claude Noel told media after the skate that Bogosian remains day-to-day with a nagging lower body injury and that he may not be a player in tomorrow night's game against the Dallas Stars.
"He may not be a player for tomorrow and we'll wait and see how he looks after that," said Noel. "He might take the morning skate but I don't know if he'll be a player in the game. Buff looks like he's ok to go tomorrow."
Dustin Byfuglien did skate with the team today after missing yesterday's skate. He did not take the pre-game warmup Friday night in Calgary as he is dealing with a lower body injury as well. The injury is different from his knee injury that kept him out of the lineup earlier this season.
Replacing Thorburn on the G-S-T Line
Chris Thorburn, a key part of the GST line for the Winnipeg Jets will be out of the lineup for the next three weeks with an undisclosed lower body injury. The question has been, who will be able to step in and fill Thorburn's shoes?
Thorburn has played in 68 of the 69 games this season tallying 10 points with four goals. He averages over ten minutes of ice-time but also brings a lot of toughness and grit to the roster each and every night.
"That line has had a true identity on our team and a true value on our team," Noel told media after Saturday's skate. "There's a real role there for that threesome. They feed off each other and drive our team in some areas. There's no doubt that leaves a void, but it's a fill-able void."
Claude has been pondering over the decision of weather to use Antti Miettinen, Eric Fehr or just to juggle all the lines around and see what he could come up with. He could dress 11 forwards and seven defencemen, double-shifting a player or two, as we've seen before.
Fehr was plugged into the line with Jim Slater and Tanner Glass during Monday's skate as the three worked together to find chemistry which means it looks like the Winkler, MB native will be given the chance to play on the GST line Wednesday night.
"I don't think there's necessarily a fit there," said Noel Monday. "He's earned the opportunity because he's here. He's not a checking type of player, he's more of a scoring-finishing type of player. But that's where the door opens so that's why I'm giving him the opportunity to get into the lineup and get some minutes.
Although both Slater and Glass admit they will miss Thorburn dearly on the GST Line, they are confident that Fehr will be an excellent addition.
"Fehrsie's more than capable of stepping in and helping us out," said Slater. "He's a skilled player, he can make some plays and he can get dirty as well."
"He's got a great shot and a great nose for the net," added Glass. "Today, he was getting open and finding the back of the net a lot, so he'll bring am offensive element to our line."