Paul Maurice and the Winnipeg Jets had a very enjoyable first month together, as the team went 10-3-2 in their first 15 games under his direction, including a four wins in his first four games.
Recently, the story hasn’t been the same, however. The Jets picked up one point of a possible six in the past week, including losses to the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators, who are both ranked lower than Winnipeg. Riding a three-game losing streak into Colorado to face a hot Avalanche team has many fans worried at how Maurice will handle the unfamiliar situation.
Maurice and the Jets felt a huge blow when team doctors announced that rookie center Mark Scheifele would likely miss the rest of the regular season after a knee-on-knee hit against the Islanders on Tuesday. Scheifele’s injury, paired with fellow pivot James Wright suffering an ankle injury that has him out of the lineup “indefinitely”, means the Jets are looking past their farm club for help.
Not only did they recall John Albert from the St. John’s Ice Caps on Thursday, but Maurice and his staff also converted Michael Frolik from wing to center on the Jets’ top line, allowing Brian Little to move down and center the third line.
GM Kevin Chevaldayoff didn’t do Maurice any favours on Trade Deadline day, instead opting to stay off the market, and re-sign defenseman Mark Stuart.
Now that Maurice has been dealt his cards, it is time to play his hand. Maurice may have made his first big mistake since his hiring by riding Ondrej Pavelec for too long, after he was pulled for the first time in the Maurice era on Saturday against the Senators. Maurice will start Al Montoya against the Avalanche on Monday, who has played spectacular in his two games under the new coach.
The Jets stuck with the same lines as Saturday during the morning skate in Denver on Monday, showing Maurice isn’t too worried about lack of chemistry. On Sunday, Maurice commented on the team playing a complete 200-foot game:
“This is part of the growth process. You build up one part then try not to have it shrink when you move on to the next part”
Jets fans will see if the Jets can pull it all together and snap their losing skid against the Avalanche on Monday night. Puck drop is at 8:00 PM Central Time on TSN Jets. You can get set up for the game by viewing our in-depth preview here.
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