PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Following a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins 15 hours earlier, the Winnipeg Jets were back on the ice for practice today at the Class of 1923 Arena on the (beautiful) University of Pennsylvania campus.
Defencemen Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba were both absent from today’s noon-hour skate, but, according to Head Coach Paul Maurice, there’s no reason to be alarmed.
“You’re going to see an awful lot of this,” he said. “Anyone that can get better with a day’s rest, we’ll have them off the ice. Everybody will be in the lineup tomorrow.”
Everyone was accounted for at forward, where the line combinations remained intact – and understandably so, considering the production of one of the recently refurbished units.
The line of Evander Kane, Adam Lowry and Chris Thorburn combined for seven points (2G, 5A), seven shots and 13 hits of the team’s 58 hits last night at CONSOL Energy Center.
Kane led the way for the trio, recording three helpers in the defeat.
“I liked the passing. More than that, the puck control, the cut-backs,” Maurice said of No. 9. “He used his speed and his size well. I really hope that’s the starting point. You’ve got three big guys [on that line]. They’re standing on the ice talking to each other and you realize Evander’s the smallest guy. There are some things they can do if they move their feet in the defensive zone. There’s some speed, too, on the wings. It’s all about puck control for these guys – physicality and puck control. I really liked that part of it.”
Thorburn, recently promoted from the fourth line, is on a tear. He has three goals in his last four games, including the game-winner against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 16. The 31-year-old is now only four goals off his career high of nine, set in all 82 games of the 2010-11 campaign.
“He looks fast. He’s getting past people, so his legs are moving,” Maurice said. “Everybody gets to a point in the season where they start feeling strong, feeling good. Confidence is a big piece of it, but there’s more to it than that. He’s a big, strong man. Speed on the wings on that line makes a big difference. That’s a physical line. Lowry might be the heaviest hitter; Evander hits everything. I love the way they look. If they keep playing like that, as Adam develops more and more over his first year, you can start matching them. It’s got potential. It’s got potential to be a big, fast line.”
Lowry has had a fabulous rookie season thus far, registering six goals and 15 points (four in his last five) in 48 games.
As the Jets prepare for tomorrow’s encounter with the struggling Philadelphia Flyers, that line will, once again, play a pivotal role at both ends of the rink.
In their only meeting of the season back on Dec. 21 at MTS Centre, the Flyers earned a 4-3 win in overtime after rallying back from a 3-1 deficit.
“I liked most of our game against Philadelphia when they were in town except for the third period. That was where we stopped making plays,” Maurice said.
“They’ve got a couple big shooters – real high-end guys that can skate.”
“They play a similar style to (Pittsburgh),” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. “They have a lot of skill up front and we don’t want to feed into their transition game. It all comes down to what we do in that room. … That’s something we’ve done pretty well all year is answering back after a loss or a tough outing. We’ll be looking to do that tomorrow.”
— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com