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Little out indefinitely with lower-body injury

"There isn't a piece of our game that we won't miss him in"

by Ryan Dittrick @ryandittrick / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets have been handed some harsh news on the injury front, with the team revealing Friday that forward Bryan Little will be out indefinitely after suffering a long-term lower-body injury in Thursday's home opener.

"We'll have a better idea of just how long in a couple weeks," Head Coach Paul Maurice said.

Little left the contest after colliding with Bryan Bickell less than 10 minutes in. The forward limped off under his own power, but immediately went to the dressing room and did not return after only four shifts. Little, who chews tough minutes against other teams' top lines, will be missed in just about every facet of the game. His versatility on this roster is unparalleled, playing crucial roles with a number of different linemates at even strength and on special teams.

In just two minutes and 48 seconds of ice time Thursday, the pivot tallied one shot and an assist on Shawn Matthias' first goal of the season.

"You can put him with defensive guys and play him against the other team's best or you can play him with some offensive guys and continue to do that. He's our most experienced centre, our strongest right-handed draw man. Power play, penalty kill, there isn't a piece of our game that we won't miss him in."

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

With Little sidelined for at least the next few weeks, Maurice unveiled some new line combinations at Friday's practice:

Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler remained on the top line, while Kyle Connor, Mathieu Perreault and Drew Stafford rounded out the Top 6; Alexander Burmistrov - who did not dress Thursday - took over for Little, centering Nikolaj Ehlers and Shawn Matthias on the third line, while the combination of Brandon Tanev, Adam Lowry and Joel Armia remained intact on the energy-filled fourth unit.

The Jets are discussing the possibility of calling someone up from the Manitoba Moose, but for now, they're counting on others to step in and help fill the void as best they can.

"We've enjoyed the defensive parts of (Burmistrov's) game," Maurice said. "He kills penalties for us and we can use experience on our PK units. He has confidence in his offensive game and we'll have people with him that can help with that."

Burmistrov tallied three assists in five preseason games.

- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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