WINNIPEG – After missing seven games with a lower-body injury, Mark Scheifele could be back in the lineup Tuesday as the Jets host the Arizona Coyotes in their final game before the All-Star
Scheifele, who was injured Jan. 7 in Dallas after slamming hard into the end boards during the overtime period, was back in the regular rotation today, centering a line with Blake Wheeler
and Nikolaj Ehlers.
“I was in the worst pain I’ve ever been in,” Scheifele said of the injury. “I went knee-first into the boards, my shin pad came up and there wasn’t anything protecting me. I was going full speed going into it, too. I made the play to Matty (Perreault) and I tried to take a step because I didn’t really feel it at first, and then I took a step on that leg and couldn’t bear it. It was killing me. I wasn’t really sure what was going on with it, but I’m happy it wasn’t super serious and I’m back now.”
As long as there isn’t a setback – “…and we’re not anticipating one,” Head Coach Paul Maurice declared – the 22-year-old will play. “He looks awfully strong out there.”
“It’s feeling good,” Scheifele said. “It pains me to be out of the lineup and be watching from upstairs. It kills me inside. But I kept working hard, I didn’t get down, and I kept working through it. I’m happy to be back out on the ice.”
Scheifele has 12 goals and 23 points in just 37 games this season. Prior to suffering the lower-body injury, he missed three games with a concussion.
In other news around the sick bay, Mathieu Perreault – who left last night’s game with a lower-body injury after colliding with Devils forward Tuomo Ruutu – did not practice. There is currently no update on his condition or status for Tuesday, as he will be re-evaluated by the medical staff later today.
Drew Stafford and Alexander Burmistrov (maintenance) did not practice, either.
The Jets were on the ice for more than hour with the bulk of it spent working on quickness. The players then skated lines for the final 15 minutes, offering a reminder, as Maurice said, “that
they’re coming to work every day.”
“We worked on getting faster with everything we’re doing,” Maurice said. “We worked those guys up and down the ice, probably, 60 or 70 times today with as much speed and quickness as we could generate. We’ll be the judge of our compete level… but we think we can just get faster with everything we do.”
The Jets fell 3-1 to the New Jersey Devils last night and when they woke up this morning, they were nine points out of a playoff spot. With 34 games left in the season, the players aren’t blind to the hole they’ve put themselves in. But as Mark Stuart put it post-practice: “You’ve got to turn the page the next day and look forward.”
“We’re still believing in what we have in here. If we play well we can beat anybody in this league. It’s not a fun time right now but you’ve got to stick with it. It’s the NHL. No one feels sorry for you.”
In order to get back in the race, the Jets will have to start stringing some wins together – and fast. They’re currently 2-5 with three tries left in this, their longest stretch at home all season.
“We can go on a run, there’s no question about it,” Stuart said. “We’ve got one more before the break so we’re looking to grab two points, then rest the body, rest the mind and then come
back and get ready for a run.”
The Jets have yet to win three in a row all season.
“I always hold the idea that our job here is to win the Stanley Cup this year; it’s not to talk about developing or ‘the process’,” Maurice said. “I have a real good grasp of what we look like when we’re really good and what we look like when we’re off a little bit, and that band is fairly narrow.”
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com