WINNIPEG - Before the Winnipeg Jets began practice Monday morning, a couple of things stood out.
One, the absence of Tucker Poolman. The defenceman left after the first period during Sunday afternoon's 1-0 loss to the Nashville Predators with a lower body injury. Paul Maurice confirmed that Poolman will not be available for the remainder of the three game home stand.
"There's a chance that he may play for us by the end of the trip (to Chicago, Carolina and Columbus)," said Maurice following the 30 minute skate.
"Then we'd be reasonably confident that he'd be a player for us coming out of the (All-Star/Player) break."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
Losing a top pairing defenceman will be tough for the Jets especially with a challenging schedule ahead. Maurice said that Josh Morrissey will be joined by Neal Pionk, but the pairing won't be permanent as he will spread the responsibility around in Poolman's absence.
The second significant news from Monday is Andrew Copp moving to the left side with Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers. This is not a new line as they played together during the Jets recent road trip in Toronto and Boston.
"Just a different kind of zone time more than anything else and maybe a little more predictable read," said Maurice when asked what he hoped for in moving Copp to the Wheeler trio.
"He plays a pretty defined kind of game. With the way we are structured right now, we're not going to get that hard match that we used to run with our back end there. So we want to get Matty Perreault back to the left (wing) and Jack Roslovic out of the heavy responsibility minutes and play his game a little bit. Relax a little bit."
Here were the line rushes from Monday morning's practice:
Copp has been impressive since his return from injury last Monday in Montreal and feels he is playing at the level that he was before he got hurt.
"I feel like I picked up where I left off. I tried to do as much as I could so I wouldn't be rusty when I got back," said Copp who has two goals in four games since his return.
"I feel like I've accomplished that and just got to try and continue to trend in the right direction. You know you're either getting better or getting worse. You are never staying the same."
Video: PRACTICE | Andrew Copp
The Michigan product has received plenty of opportunities to be a more offensive type player this season. From playing centre with Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine to extensive time on the power play. His not so new centreman feels Copp has plenty to offer.
"He's always in the right spots. Makes really strong plays all over the ice," said Wheeler.
"Coming up, he's really good on the wall in the defensive zone, wins a lot of battles. Going up to the offensive zone, showed an ability to make some offensive plays on the wall as well. So I liked our practice today so hopefully it carries over (to the game Tuesday)."
Video: PRACTICE | Blake Wheeler
Bryan Little was a participant in practice today as he recovers from a perforated ear drum. He was wearing a yellow non-contact jersey and looked to be more involved than he has since the injury.
"We think he's a skater tomorrow, non-contact. He's got to stay on the ice with ice as long as he feels good," said Maurice.
"He's almost monitoring his own heart rate. He gets into the drills and stays out as he needs too. Start stringing some on-ice days together."