The Winnipeg Jets were dealt some bad news on Tuesday morning: They would be without Evander Kane until the team returns to NHL action after the Olympics, at least.
The team couldn’t get a win just hours after head coach Paul Maurice was dealt the news, eventually losing to their divisional foe, the Nashville Predators, by a score of 4-3. However, the Jets’ tweaked lineup fared surprisingly well, giving fans hope that their team won’t be completely lost without Kane after all.
On paper, the Jets shouldn’t have a ton of trouble taking care of things while Kane is gone. Paul Maurice countered with Chris Thorburn taking Kane’s spot on second-line wing. Maurice was looking for a balanced top-six, and Thorburn’s defensive side would make the line better at a 200-foot game. Winnipeg has won more games in 2014 without Kane than they have with him, (4-2), when Kane was out with his original hand injury earlier in the month.
It worked out for Maurice, but not in the way he expected it to. Thorburn scored his first goal of the season, (and first in 50 games), and finished with a +3 rating. Thorburn’s defensive side still showed, with seven hits in the game.
Maurice can’t count on Thorburn to keep up his play offensively, and it was quite obvious that the 30-year old was slowing down Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele in the late stages of the game, when they were the Jets’ best two players.
Eric O’Dell, who only had 4:00 of ice time in the game, is a much more offensive player, and he would fit in a lot better on the team’s second line. However, Maurice would be taking a huge chance placing three offensive players in the top six, as the team’s fourth line has been atrocious as is.
Despite the loss, it would be unlikely that the Jets would change their lineup substantially before they take on the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night. There were too many great individual efforts, and with a better performance in their own zone, the Jets can return to the form that has been so great of late.
Maurice does have time on his side, as the Jets will have two full practice days as well as a morning skate before the Jets return to game action. This allows him to review tape, and work out some options for a lineup shift, if one is even necessary.
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