WINNIPEG, MB - While the flu bug has come and gone from the Winnipeg Jets dressing room at different times this season, one bug has been there all season:
The injury bug.
It bit the team again today, as head coach Paul Maurice announced Shawn Matthias will have season-ending surgery to repair a pre-existing labral tear.
"We would have liked to see him play in the first couple months a bit more - when he was injured. Then he came back and had some strong play, and now he'll miss the last 12," said Maurice. "When that line was on their game, they were real good. He's playing with two young guys in Lowry and Armia, and I think he helped them in a lot of ways try to define that game, that offensive zone pressure game."
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
That's not all. Paul Postma will miss Sunday's game against the Minnesota Wild due to a lower body injury, meaning Brian Strait will be recalled from the Manitoba Moose, and will jump right into the line-up.
"(I'll) very probably play him with the old guy (Josh) Morrissey," Maurice said. "It's important that our forwards recognize that we've got some inexperience or guys that haven't played a lot of games this year. They have to help them. They're young guys too, so it's a good challenge."
The Jets blue line has been dealing with injuries all season, and now will be without Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba (who Maurice says is out "a little more than day to day" with his injury), Toby Enstrom, and Postma on Sunday.
Julian Melchiori has played seven games for the Jets this season, and was paired with Dustin Byfuglien in Thursday's 4-2 win over the New York Islanders. He says the key to playing strong defensively is keeping things simple, and that Byfuglien has played a big role in making him feel comfortable.
"He's been huge. He's such a great defenceman, but even off the ice he's always talking to me, making me feel comfortable, and asking how I am," said Melchiori. "Even Mark Scheifele, he's one of my good friends, but he's always helping me out. He's a respected guy in the room. Lots of guys have but those are two that stand out."
Video: PRACTICE | Julian Melchiori
The Wild (43-20-6) will come into MTS Centre on the back half of back-to-back games after hosting the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Heading into that contest against the Rangers, the Wild have lost five of their last six games, including each of the last three.
While the Jets have put together a 16-8-2 record against the Central Division this season, the Wild have been responsible for four of those losses.
Video: PRACTICE | Mark Scheifele
"There are points in all those games and certainly the ones later, that we really liked the way we've played, but weren't able to maintain that. Part of that is, they've got enough depth there that they can hit you on all four lines," said Maurice. "That's a real challenge. For us to maintain a real high level of play, and be comfortable at times in your own end because they've got some big men that like to hang on to the puck. We've got to be real tight in that area."
Puck drop against Minnesota is 4 pm CT on TSN 3 and TSN 1290.
There was some good news on the injury front, as defenceman Tyler Myers continues to progress after his surgery earlier this season.
"We're not far off we think of getting him into consecutive days of skating, so that's positive," Maurice said.
The swelling around Jacob Trouba's injury has gone down according to Maurice, but it's expected it will be at least a week of rehabilitation before the defenceman is back skating.
Toby Enstrom is still recovering from his concussion, and Maurice lists him as "longer than day-to-day."
Video: PRACTICE | Adam Lowry