The Winnipeg Jets are not enjoying themselves as of late. Having now lost a season-high six-straight games, the team is on the verge of dropping into fourth place in the all-Canadian North Division.
Following an uber-successful road trip to which the team earned eight of a possible 10 points out east, the Jets returned home to Bell MTS Place, where it lost five games in a row to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers. Based on just goals for/against it wasn’t even close: 21-6.
Hoping to turn things around on the road, Winnipeg found the net three times early in Montreal on Friday, but allowed the host Canadiens to score four-straight goals and ultimately lost the game 5-3. With the lost, the Jets are just two points up on Montreal for third place, with just six matchups to go in the abbreviated 56-game schedule.
“The hardest part about it is when one thing goes wrong, you feel like everything’s adding up,” Andrew Copp said of the Jets’ recent struggles. “You feel like the momentum is rising against you and you’re almost overwhelmed sometimes. When you’re in something like this, you have to really fight to not mentally break when something doesn’t go your way… You’ve just really got to concentrate on staying positive, picking each other up after any sort of small mistake, making sure guys know when they’ve made a half-decent play to a good play to try and really kind of rally around each other and create a positive atmosphere.”
Making matters more difficult for Winnipeg is the fact that the team has been playing without forwards Nikolaj Ehlers and Adam Lowry, who have both been dealing with injuries the past week. But on Sunday, head coach Paul Maurice announced that Lowry would likely get back into the lineup for Monday’s contest against the Senators in Ottawa.
“So he got through it today in a blue sweater,” Maurice said of Lowry’s participation in Sunday’s practice. “He was good and felt strong. He moved right. If he feels good tomorrow then we’ll consider him a player and put some lines back together that we’ve had in the past. Lowry between Copp and Appleton and Scheif between Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler. So we’ll sort the rest of them.”
So according to the coach, a few changes will be made to the offence with Lowry’s presumptive return. Despite suffering his injury on a high hit from Toronto’s Alex Galchenyuk, Maurice said the setback was not a concussion, but rather moreso a problem in Lowry’s neck. And the team did its due diligence ensuring that he was 100 percent ready to play before throwing him into a full practice.
“It makes more sense to take more time,” Maurice said. “And we’ve done that. We kept him in a gold jersey probably two days longer than he felt he needed to be. We were going to wait, and wait, and wait, then push him hard off the ice, push him hard on the ice. He did all the banging he needed to two days ago. He stayed off the ice for more treatment yesterday, went full on in practice, and said ‘I’m good, I’m good.’ When anything comes above the shoulders, I have absolutely no qualms if he goes into the game tomorrow night that he’ll be thinking about anything else but the game.”
Lowry, who has now missed the past four games, has watched his team struggle in his absence. But according to the centreman, it’s just been tough break after tough break, and he expects a bounce-back effort soon.
“Every team is going to go through some struggles,” he said. It’s unfortunate that it’s coming at this point of the year, but I think you look at the last two games, especially, you look at the style, you look at the battle level and compete, I think our game is a lot closer to being back to where we’re going to be comfortable with it. I think you’re going to see some positive results. Hopefully, we can get the ball rolling and get every feeling good again and go from there.”
Alongside the addition of Lowry to the fold, netminder Laurent Brossoit will draw back into the lineup on Monday night, taking to the Jets’ crease. After entering in relief of Connor Hellebuyck twice over the past 10 days, Brossoit’s most recent start came back on April 14 – and before that, March 27.
Puck drop from Canadian Tire Centre is set for 6:00 PM central on Monday. The game can be viewed live on TSN. Winnipeg then travels to Calgary for an 8:30 PM battle with the Flames on Wednesday.