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Missing Trouba, Jets reshuffle defense for Sabres

by Patrick Williams

SABRES (13-16-2) at JETS (15-10-6)


WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will be missing another key piece of their defense when they play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.

The Jets announced after the morning skate Tuesday that second-year defenseman Jacob Trouba will be out until February with an unspecified upper-body injury. Jets coach Paul Maurice called Trouba's injury "a pre-existing condition that most players deal with."

Trouba did not practice Monday, something that Maurice said at the time was a maintenance day. Maurice also said that Trouba was "probable" for the game Tuesday.

Winnipeg's defense is also missing Zach Bogosian and Toby Enstrom with lower-body injuries.

However, the Jets will have one defenseman back in their lineup. Grant Clitsome, who has not played since Nov. 28 because of an unspecified injury, will dress Tuesday.

Trouba's absence means another shuffle for Winnipeg's defense. Dustin Byfuglien, who moved from forward two weeks ago, will remain with Ben Chiarot. But Trouba's partner, Mark Stuart, will pair with Paul Postma. Clitsome will partner with Adam Pardy.

"I'm comfortable playing with [Stuart]," Postma said. "We played a little together last [season]. He's such a solid defensive player."

Trouba's absence provides an opportunity for Postma and Chiarot to establish themselves further as long-term options for the Jets.

"It's great for all of those guys," Maurice said. "They get to make their case for being more than a guy that is [an extra defenseman]. This is their time.

"We've got six NHL guys in our lineup. That's good enough. We're good enough on our back end to survive at least, and we expect to do more than that."

The Sabres arrived in Winnipeg early Tuesday after a 5-4 shootout win at home against the Ottawa Senators on Monday. The Sabres spent time at MTS Centre on Tuesday, but only a handful of players participated in the optional morning skate.

Sabres coach Ted Nolan said that defenseman Josh Gorges, who has missed the past two games with a hand injury, will be a game-time decision. If Gorges can play, he would likely push Andre Benoit out of the lineup.

Buffalo lost center Torrey Mitchell to a lower-body injury Monday. Mitchell's absence spurred the Sabres to recall center Mikhail Grigorenko from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League after the game Monday.

The 20-year-old Grigorenko, the 12th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, impressed Buffalo management at training camp, and had seven goals and 12 assists in 27 games with the Americans. The recall is the first this season for Grigorenko, who has three goals and five assists in 43 NHL games in the past two seasons.

Nolan said that Grigorenko will center left wing Nicolas Deslauriers and right wing Drew Stafford. Center Marcus Foligno will move to the second line to replace Mitchell and skate with left wing Brian Flynn and right wing Brian Gionta.

"I thought that he was by far one of the best players in training camp," Nolan said of Grigorenko. "I'm quite sure that he was disappointed to go down to Rochester, but it's part of the development process."

Nolan did not have an update on Mitchell's status.

Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth will oppose Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec.

Here are the projected lineups:


Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis

Brian Flynn - Marcus Foligno - Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers - Mikhail Grigorenko - Drew Stafford

Chris Stewart - Cody Hodgson - Patrick Kaleta

Nikita Zadorov - Tyler Myers

Andre Benoit - Rasmus Ristolainen

Tyson Strachan - Andrej Meszaros

Michal Neuvirth

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: None

Injured: Josh Gorges (hand), Cody McCormick (lower body), Torrey Mitchell (lower body), Mike Weber (knee)


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk

Chris Thorburn - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Paul Postma

Adam Pardy - Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Julien Brouillette, TJ Galiardi

Injured: Zach Bogosian (lower body), Toby Enstrom (lower body), Jacob Trouba (upper body)

Status report: Nolan shuffled his defensive pairings Monday and said that though he was somewhat satisfied with the changes, he might reshuffle them again… Galiardi will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game and the 13th time in the past 15 games.

Who's hot: Foligno has goals in three consecutive games, a career-first. … Stafford has a four-game points streak (one goal, three assists). … Perreault has points in four consecutive games (one goal, three assists).

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