WINNIPEG -- It was a good news, bad news type of morning skate for the Winnipeg Jets (30-37-6) ahead of tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings (44-24-5).
First, the bad news: Tyler Myers is done for the season.
The blue liner needs two surgeries: one procedure on his hip, and another on his knee. Myers had the latter completed this morning, and when the knee is rehabilitated to a certain point, the hip will be operated on as well.
The recovery time, should everything go to plan, will take until mid-August or September, according to head coach Paul Maurice.
“The hip he’s been dealing with over years. You can play with it until you can’t. It just got to the point that the doctors felt this was the time to get it done,” said Maurice. “The knee is not something that’s necessarily a problem again. You can just not get anything done with it, it just hit that threshold of ‘we’re going to have to fix this knee’, and that was very recent.”
Myers joins fellow defenceman, Toby Enstrom, and Anthony Peluso as members of the Jets going under the knife in the last week.
“Every year you’ve got two or three guys that need a surgery at the end of the year. Toby’s was different. It got to the point that if you waited longer you opened yourself up to things that couldn’t be repaired easily. So it just had to get done,” said Maurice. “We very probably have more guys that are going to need to get things cleaned up at the end of the year.”
While the news about Myers is devastating, the Jets did get some good news, as Maurice confirmed Mark Stuart will return to the line-up tonight. Nikolaj Ehlers and Joel Armia are also possibilities to return from injury, providing they get clearance from team doctors.
“With a hand injury it’s nice in a sense. I was in the weight room right away biking and stuff like that, and then able to get on the ice pretty quick afterwards,” Stuart said of his broken hand. “Originally they said four to six (weeks), so that’s kind of what we were going after. Just making sure it healed enough. It was a pretty clean break so it was able to heal pretty well.”
Stuart has been out since Feb. 13, when he blocked a shot at Rexall Place against the Edmonton Oilers.
Ehlers meanwhile, has missed 10 games after taking puck shattered his visor, leaving blood in his eye chamber. The forward was wearing a full face shield at morning skate, something that is taking some getting used to.
“It’s pretty hard to breathe in there,” he said, before turning his focus to his three-week recovery. “I almost had to take a week off because of the eye injury. They said I needed to not do anything for a week, then start slow. That’s what I did. When you get a week off so late in the season it helps you recover a bit. I feel good.”
Maurice wasted no time in putting Ehlers back with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler this morning. While the coach likes the 13 goals and 31 points Ehlers has brought to the line-up, he’s also happy with the rookie’s ability to change his game.
“Right from day one he was able to be aware of the things he needed to change, and had a strong willingness to do it,” said Maurice. “The stopping and starting in your own end, shift length, body position defensively, and he’s made great strides to that…. For a young man, he’s a really good pro.”
Tonight’s match up with the Los Angeles Kings wraps up a four-game home stand for the Jets. The visitors tonight lead the Pacific Division with 93 points, and have already clinched a playoff spot, but will not be happy following a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.
“They’re in a position that they never look at a loss favourably, but when you look at the game, they were a pretty darn good hockey team in that game,” Maurice said. “They were dominant in that game. When you watch them play, the hallmark now is that consistency of game. They’re not off it. They’re going to play the same game every night. Very focused, very disciplined in their style.
“That’s what we’re getting tonight.”
Puck drop is 7 pm CT.
A LITTLE BOOST
Speaking of good news, Bryan Little skated with the team in an orange non-contact jersey this morning at MTS Centre. The centre hasn’t played since Feb. 18 in Tampa Bay, when he took a hit from Anton Stralman, which resulted in a fractured vertebrae.