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Jets forward Scheifele out with MCL sprain

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG – Winnipeg Jets second-line center Mark Scheifele has an MCL sprain in his right knee, coach Paul Maurice said Wednesday, and his status will be updated in a few weeks.

TSN reported Scheifele would miss six-to-eight weeks after sustaining the injury in a loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday in Winnipeg. He was injured 11:18 into the second period after a collision with Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan, left the game and did not return.

The Jets medical staff evaluated Scheifele on Wednesday morning.

"It's all in how [quickly] this thing heals. You can check back with me in two or three weeks, and I'll give you a general idea of where we think it's at," Jets coach Paul Maurice said Wednesday at the team's practice rink. "There is a wide spectrum of [timelines] in terms of when [players] come back from these injuries, but it's never in three or four weeks, so you don't need to check back too soon."

Maurice, who has led Winnipeg on an 11-3-2 run since replacing Claude Noel on Jan. 12, has the Jets within one point of the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference. Scheifele has 13 goals and 34 points in 63 games in his first full season. The Jets are bidding to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007 when the organization was based in Atlanta.

"He was playing some really, really important minutes," said Maurice, who admitted that after watching video of the hit he feared Scheifele's prognosis could have been much worse.

First-line center Bryan Little ranks second on the Jets with 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists), but the depth at center thins out with James Wright sidelined with an ankle injury.

"I've got to find somebody to play center ice and shave some minutes at the number that Scheifele was at, so there is going to be some movement in positions," Maurice said.

Olli Jokinen likely will replace Scheifele on the second line. Jim Slater returned from a lengthy injury absence this past week and has played in 11 games this season. Eric O'Dell, who has played 14 games with the Jets, is a candidate to be recalled from the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League. Eric Tangradi offers the Jets another option at forward, but he has dressed for four games since Maurice took over.

"There will be opportunities for players," Maurice said. "And how you handle it and how you handle your emotions is a critical piece in this stretch and is true in the playoffs, as well."

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