In an effort to generate more offence, Head Coach Paul Maurice shuffled his defence pairings at today’s practice, moving Jacob Trouba up into the Top 4 alongside Dustin Byfuglien.
“It’s an interesting dynamic to have a one-time shot with a guy that can move the puck as well as Buff does,” Maurice said. “We know that Jake’s had that ability, he can pull the puck across the line and be creative in that hole, too. … It has more to do with who they’ll match up (against) and who they’ll play behind, but there will be a learning curve for the two of them.”
Maurice did not confirm if the pair will start Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, but did say he liked what he saw after the duo got a brief audition in Friday’s loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We’ll see. We want to get (Trouba) some practice time, for sure,” Maurice said. “We’ll go as the performance dictates insert them where we want them.”
Ben Chiarot took Trouba’s old spot alongside Mark Stuart, while the Toby Enstrom-Tyler Myers pairing remained intact.
LOWRY HEATS UP
Adam Lowry scored his first goal of the season in Thursday’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 22-year-old had another strong outing Friday and as a result, found himself back in the middle midway through the game, centering Nikolaj Ehlers and Alexander Burmistrov on the third line.
Maurice said the forward is trending the right way and could soon be back full-time as a Top 9 regular.
“He’s better now than where we was,” Maurice said, referencing the big pivot’s tough start. “He’s been quicker, so he got back into middle in the second half of the game in Chicago. That’ll be his ‘in’ at some point. He’s on the right trajectory and when he gets into those Top 9 minutes, I’m not sure — and it’s part of what I’d like to see happen at some point — so it’s only a matter of time for him.”
Lowry scored 11 goals in his rookie campaign, and while they haven’t come easy this season, he isn’t far off his total point pace of a year ago.
Still, he’s eager to contribute more and help the team get back into the playoff race.
The Jets, who are 5-5 in their past 10, are five points back of a Wild Card playoff spot with 52 games to play.
“You look at what Minnesota did last year, they went on a big run and made some noise in the playoffs,” Lowry said. “We know we’re a good team in here, so it’s a matter of coming out every night and being consistent in every aspect of the game. When we’re clicking in all areas, we’re an elite team. It’s going to be important for us to get back and start winning some games, especially in our division. That was an area where we were really strong last year and we’ve seemed to struggle this year.”
SPEAKING OF THE CENTRAL…
The Jets were 16-8-5 against divisional opponents last year.
This year? 3-9-0.
“You want to have a good record in your own division, but there’s not much we can do about the start [now],” captain Andrew Ladd said. “We need to put a stretch of wins together and get back above the line, that’s our biggest focus.”
The Jets’ three wins have come against the Blackhawks and (1) and Minnesota Wild (2).
“A lot of those games happened (earlier in) the year when we weren’t playing the game we needed to play,” Ladd said, referencing a difficult four-game trip in mid November that saw the Jets fall in Minnesota, Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis.
“Lately our game is back to where it needs to be, so I’m not too worried about it.”
The Jets will get another crack at Central Division opponent Tuesday night when they host the third of four meetings with the Blues. –
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com