Sunday, September 25, 2022

Jets focusing on things they can control amid COVID-19 outbreak

WINNIPEG – A possible COVID-19 crisis appears to have made its way into the Winnipeg Jets’ dressing room. It won’t take long to see how they handle it.

Although the Jets have been lucky to keep the virus under control for this season (and the last one), they are currently dealing with the biggest outbreak since March 2020.

No matter how many security measures are in place or how careful players are, Omicron’s wide spread puts everyone at risk.

On Monday morning, Nikolaj Ehlers entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, including defenseman Dylan DeMello, forward Jensen Harkins, Taxi Squad goalkeeper Arvid Holm and video coach Matt Prefontaine – who joined the team in Denver last week. Went there during

Then on Tuesday, it was Christian Reichel and defensemen Nathan Beaulieu, Logan Stanley and Wiley Henola all joined the list.

Although DeMello, Harkins and Holm all qualify to drop off the list, Jets interim head coach Dave Lowry is still unclear about the availability of some of those players for Thursday’s road game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Harkins was on his way to Detroit to meet the team, so that appears to be an option, while DeMelo remains in quarantine in Denver. Holm was returned to Manitoba Moose on Tuesday afternoon.

Complicating matters, Kristian Veslainen missed Tuesday’s workout and is considered a day-to-day, while fellow forwards Blake Wheeler and David Gustafsson are sidelined due to injury.

A development occurred on Wheeler’s front, as Lowry revealed that the Jets captain is back on ice skating and may rejoin the team in a non-contact jersey at some point next week.

In the meantime, Lowry waits to see who’s going to be available for her—and what other reinforcements might be in the way of the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose.

“We are not the only team that has dealt with this,” Lowry said. “You talk with your teammates. All you have to do is build a lineup with the players available. That’s all you can control, that’s all you can worry about. We know the situation.” Were, that at some point we were going to be affected by it.

“We’re lucky it took so long to get to our locker room. What we do now is that we prepare with people that we have to put together a roster.”

There was a positive development on the injury front as forward Paul Stestany was back on the ice after missing the last game with a lower body issue. Stestany is known for his ability to provide perspective and roll with the punches, and Tuesday’s news was inevitably met with a shrug of shoulders.

“It was inevitable that this was going to happen,” Stastany said. “Everybody’s getting it, every guy who has it is fine. Whether in Colorado or here, it’s good. Fewer and fewer players in practice, but we’ll do what’s right.”

“Every team is going through this and you almost expect everyone to get it out of the way now rather than having to stop for a year.”

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Depending on Vesalainen’s condition and whether someone else falls within the NHL’s COVID protocol, the Jets may also want to recall one or more Jeff Malott, Mickey Eyssimont or Austin Poganski from Moose, even as an insurance policy.

The absence of the Ehlers in the Jets lineup means that some crucial minutes, both on power and on power play, need to be filled.

As far as the defense is concerned, the doors are open for Dylan Samberg to make his NHL debut.

It has been an interesting season for Samberg, whose development led to an unplanned pit stop on the first day of training camp, when he suffered a high ankle sprain during an unfortunate fall.

That injury sidelined Samberg for sporting action for seven weeks, and he’s basically been playing catch-up ever since.

However, Samberg – who is in his second pro season after three years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth – has played up to 16 games and is, by all accounts, his best hockey game of late.

So in many ways, the timing is right for Samberg to jump into the lineup.

He remains one of the top defense prospects in the organization and while his game is not nearly as flashy as someone like Henola’s, Samberg’s skill set includes a number of qualities that will serve him and the team well – both in the short term. and longer duration.

Samberg has the size and the dynamism and projects to eventually become a shutdown man, even if his initial opportunity may be to come on a third pair with someone like his AHL partner, Jonathan Kovacevic – who will also be making his debut – Provided DeMello remains in quarantine.

As for a second-round pick, 43rd overall of the 2017 NHL Draft, Samberg has experienced a lot in the years since — suiting up in a pair of World Junior Hockey Championships and a pair of NCAA Frozen Four titles with the Bulldogs. win .

There was much debate as to whether Samberg could turn pro after his season of sophistication, but he opted to return to school to pursue a three-peat, only to have that opportunity stolen by the pandemic.

Samberg suited up in a brief AHL season last year and then recovered from an injury on the first day of training camp in September.

“Yeah, it’s been a while, but it’s the moment you’ve been in the back of your head since the day you were drafted,” said Samberg, who has had 48 games with the Moose in the past. Has one goal and 12 points. two seasons. “You’re always looking forward to it, you’re always pushing for it, that’s your main goal.

“I was lucky to go to college and work on my game there, and then come here and play with Moose for a while, work on my game and get comfortable with the program. Now, I finally got a chance. And I’m really excited for it.”

For a Jets club that already needs to leapfrog two other teams and have a quiet schedule until next week, when they head out for a four-game road trip against high-end opponents, this tough stretch It is necessary to stay in the thick of it to survive in this playoff race.

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“We went to a stretch where we didn’t play for 14 days. And the teams you are competing with in the standings for positioning, playing games they are moving, (so) the difference looks big,” Lowry said. “What we have to focus on is we have to focus on our game. Where are we at. And that’s the only thing we can control.”

“We know we’re going to be stacked with a bunch of games. We had a long talk with the players today: prepare, use this time wisely, because we know we’re going to play a lot of games here And then our practice time will be limited.

No matter how daunting a condensed schedule may seem down the road, it’s not something the Jets have time to expend energy on.

“You can’t get too bogged down about how many games you’re going to play in how many days,” Stestany said. “Practice is one thing, but you just want to compete against other players. That’s a whole different thing. Especially when the game matters a lot. I think all the boys are excited to go.

“Whether it’s a game and then we have to take a few days off, we know we’re going to have a lot of games at the end of the schedule. We’ll do everything we can to be ready for those games, be prepared, Keep the mind fresh and the body ready, for it is going to grind.”

The Jets’ team entered the season with high expectations and, despite an unexpected coaching change and a few stops and starts due to the pandemic, they remain high hopes – even as the team returned to Tuesday’s action. Three points from the final playoff spot entered the Western Conference.

“I still have the same hopes for this team,” Stastany said. “Yes, there have been some obstacles along the way, but everyone goes through it. We have 49 matches left now. It looks like we’re running for more than half of the season, simply because of where we are in the calendar year. But with the season starting a little later, with extended breaks and the feeling that you’ve only played 33 games, there’s now a bit of a game day.

“But you realize that every game is very important, especially in this Central Division we are in the Western Conference. It’s like every team wins or scores points and you realize how important that is. And it Makes it more fun. In the past I’ve been part of playoff races where at the halfway point you knew who was going to come in and who wasn’t. This year, except maybe one or two teams, everyone in the Western Conference Still alive, and it just makes that game more important and competitive. It’s easy to get up to it, even if it’s a long season.”

Nation World News Desk
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