Injuries, the Jets lineup and perfect timing
It's only a coincidence, of course, that a pair of key Winnipeg Jets defencemen went under the knife this week, at a time when losing is the desired outcome.
This is where the interest (or news value) in the team now resides. Who is in the lineup, who is not in the lineup and who is, without any warning or prior suggestion, going under the knife? What will the club look like over the weekend?
Take your best guess.
Prior to Winnipeg's unexpected 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings at MTS Centre Thursday evening (that's two straight home wins for the first time in 2016, by the way), the club announced defenceman Tyler Myers is done for the season.
The 26-year-old underwent a surgical procedure to one of his knees Thursday morning and once that was completed he would undergo a second surgery—this one a little more serious—that involved one of his hips.
The recovery timetable for that one: 16-20 weeks, or basically the summer.
The reason to have the surgery is completely sound. Winnipeg, wallowing out of the playoff picture for weeks, wants Myers to be as close to 100 per cent when the 2016-17 season gets started.
Wait a second. If Myers was dealing with these injuries prior to this week, why is he only now having the surgery? Are Jets unaware they are in the middle of a tank battle? That makes no sense.
Anyway, his absence comes on the heels of Toby Enstrom getting one of his knees operated on earlier this week. According to the club, Enstrom was dealing with a knee issue since November.
And the pro-tank coalition asks again: Why didn't the Jets shut him down sooner—say once it was realized they weren't going to qualify for the post season?
Remember those questions if Winnipeg doesn't get a Top 3 pick this summer.
And so the merry-go-round lineup continues on, at a time when roster ambiguity is more than welcome. The Jets are trying to lose games, remember, trying to be bad enough to help improve their position come the draft lottery at the end of April.
Gone are Myers and Enstrom, in comes Mark Stuart. Centre Bryan Little (fractured vertebrae) was back skating with the team Thursday morning.
Nikolaj Ehlers and Joel Armia are back in, as well, less than a week after Mathieu Perreault was lost with a concussion. Every game day, it seems, the forward lines (specifically the Bottom 6) are a lottery in their own right, as players coming in replace other players who were replacing someone else.
Sorry, Nic Petan. About those good times you enjoyed skating alongside Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele against Vancouver Tuesday? Yeah, Ehlers is ready to go again. How does the fourth-line sound, though?
If injuries and uncertainty were going to find this club, then best it happens now when the drop to the bottom of the stands starts to really matter.
Winnipeg, sitting 26th overall, has to fight off Toronto and Edmonton for that last place title—with clubs like Vancouver, Columbus and Calgary showing real a potential to suck just as much as everyone associated with the basement.
Funny thing is, until the recently, the Jets have done a fairly decent job of staying healthy. Winnipeg has been near the bottom of the league in terms of man games lost this season (Ondrej Pavelec was the only significant injury they had to deal with). As of last week, though, the Jets were ranked in the middle of the pack—and climbing up the charts thanks to the losses of Myers and Enstrom.
That's fantastic timing (or a coincidence) for an organization trying to finish as far back as the President's Trophy as they can get.