WINNIPEG - Heading into practice on Monday, the big question revolved around the injury status of Mathieu Perreault and Dmitry Kulikov after both left Saturday's win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Head coach Paul Maurice had the update following the team's 60-minute skate, saying Kulikov had a "strong morning" and may be out "considerably less" time than the two weeks the team initially feared.
The news wasn't so good for Perreault.
"Mathieu is going to be four weeks we think. It's a big number," said Maurice. "We need what he brings, because he finds a way to get on the puck, knock things down, and keep it there. He's an important piece to that second power play unit.
"But we've got some young guys that are playing in the minors that maybe two years ago would have started here. They come with a little more bite and a little more determination. So we think we have the pieces here to survive an injury like this."
Video: PRACTICE | Kyle Connor
With Perreault out - and now on injured reserve - the Jets called up Kyle Connor, who has five points (three goals and two assists) in four games with the Manitoba Moose so far this season.
The 20-year-old Connor was plugged right into Perreault's spot on the wing with Bryan Little and Patrik Laine.
"It's always exciting. For me it's just trying to play the same game I've been playing since the start of the year," said Connor. "They're both really great players. I think I can bring some speed to the table. Our playmaking ability, I think we can all move the puck around and have the ability to finish. It's going to be exciting, I'm looking forward to it."
Little has spent time with Connor on the wing dating back to the preseason. He's also used to having younger players on the wing, after skating with Nikolaj Ehlers and Laine last season.
Video: PRACTICE | Bryan Little
"Patrik, he's very mature for his age, and he's easy to talk to and play with, and I'm getting a feel for how to play with him," said Little. "Kyle is a great young player. He's easy to talk to, listens, and played some really good hockey for us when he was up with us last year. I'm not too worried about their age."
The full line rushes at Bell MTS Iceplex looked like this:
Video: PRACTICE | Matt Hendricks
Maurice added that Adam Lowry (upper-body) and Matt Hendricks won't be in the line-up tomorrow night against Columbus, but are getting closer.
"The earliest would be Friday," said Maurice. "But I'm pretty confident that if they didn't play then, they'd be ready within the five day block after, and they'd be available after that."
Steve Mason will get his third start of the season tomorrow night, against the team that drafted him in the third round in 2006.
"I think his game in the second game, there were outstanding saves," said Maurice. "He wouldn't like some of the goals, but I don't think we judged our goaltender by how he played in those games as being the deciding factor for us.
"This guy is a good goaltender, and based on our schedule I can't leave him out any longer. I don't want to. I want him back in the net."
Nikolaj Ehlers left this morning's team meeting with a smile on his face. It was at that time that head coach Paul Maurice informed the team that the 20-year-old had been named the NHL's First Star of the Week.
Video: PRACTICE | Nikolaj Ehlers
"It's pretty cool. The guys were congratulating me. It feels good. But it was a team effort," said Ehlers. "It's something I can be proud of, but it's only one week. We have many weeks to go. I want to try and keep this going, and keep getting better. The team has been doing well the past three games. It definitely feels good."
Ehlers had five goals - including a natural hat trick - and seven points over a three-game stretch last week. His seven points lead the team, while his five goals are good enough for a tie for fourth in the NHL.
"I'm happy for him," said Maurice, adding that it's not the hat trick that stands out for him. "There were two or three times in the third period where we needed to change gears against Carolina, and he came off the wall and put a puck to the net.
"When Nik shoots the puck before you think he's going to shoot the puck, that's when he's dangerous. It looks like he's got that attitude again with the puck."