With nearly 35,000 Jets fans expected to gather at Bell MTS Place or the surrounding area in the Whiteout Street Party Friday afternoon/early evening, most decisions have already been made in preparation for the party surrounding game five of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
From transportation to and from the rink, to which jersey will provide Winnipeg with the best luck, to the exact shade of white face paint, to the brand of beer or other specialty beverage to be consumed Friday evening, many choices will be made.
The same can be said for Winnipeg Jets’ Head Coach Paul Maurice – hold the beer.
Hulking Winnipeg blueliner, Tyler Myers was injured in game three of the series and missed Tuesday’s contest. Myers, however, skating with the team Friday morning and told reporters that he would indeed like to dress for game five.
“I feel pretty good,” the defenceman said following morning skate. “I stepped out there this morning and all things were going pretty well, so I’ll be out there tonight. It was tough; you never want to sit out a game. You always want to be out there helping the team win. Back out there doing that tonight – Feels good; I feel ready.”
Maurice indicated that if Myers felt good enough to play, he would most likely draw back into the lineup. Currently boasting a defence corps highlighted by the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Joe Morrow, Ben Chiarot, Tucker Poolman and Sami Niku, the re-insertion of Myers would be a highly welcomed addition to a Jets’ squad looking to finish off their closest geographical rival, up 3-1 in the opening round of the playoffs.
“You’re talking about a guy who missed a year basically, with an injury,” Maurice said. “And we wanted to make sure it wasn’t that. Once we passed through that gate, he was back on the ice.”
“When a new guy comes in, you feel a little better about your game. Especially if you come off a win,” coach Maurice continued. “So we come off a win without him, we know we’re out Morrissey, and that’s a hole. Tyler’s a really good player. Sure, you put a veteran guy back in your lineup, it always makes the room feel good.”
Myers currently has two goals and three points in three playoff games this year. With Myers returning from injury, American Hockey League Outstanding Defenceman of the Year and recent AHL call-up Sami Niku will not dress. Coach Maurice will opt for Tucker Poolman to serve as a replacement for Morrissey/Enstrom.
News also broke from Winnipeg even before morning skate began that backup goaltender Steve Mason had suffered an injury while moving cross-crease. He immediately left the ice after being attended to by team medics. His status for Friday night’s contest is also up in the air.
If Mason cannot serve as Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck’s backup, one would anticipate a Michael Hutchinson call-up from the Manitoba Moose at some point Friday afternoon. If serious, this injury to Mason would mark the fourth time that the Jets’ 2017 off-season signing has found himself on Winnipeg’s injured reserve this season.
Defenceman Josh Morrissey will fulfill his one-game suspension Friday night, following a cross check to the neck of Minnesota’s Eric Staal. Toby Enstrom skated on his own Friday morning, and is “getting close” to making a return. Adam Lowry did not skate for the second-straight day.
Puckdrop is set for 6:30 P.M., while the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party kicks off at 4:30 P.M. central time.
By Carter Brooks
Photos by James Carey Lauder