Bruised but not broken, Patrik Laine will return to Jets lineup in a week or 2
Head coach Paul Maurice says they won't be rushing star forward back to the ice
Head coach Paul Maurice delivered some positive news Thursday to worried fans of injured Winnipeg Jets sniper Patrik Laine.
The team's leading goal-scorer isn't seriously hurt, but did suffer a soft-tissue bruise when he blocked a shot with his left foot in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime victory against Los Angeles.
Laine will miss Friday's home game against Anaheim and also likely Sunday's match versus Nashville.
Maurice said bruises have kept players out in the past for four to 14 days, but he stressed that wasn't the prognosis for Laine. The swelling around his injury has decreased.
"We'll give it a few days," he said. "We want him to be able to skate, we want him to be able to play. And in the situation that we're in, we don't want him hobbling around the ice.
The Predators lead the NHL Central Division, eight points ahead of the Jets (44-19-10) prior to Nashville's Thursday game against Toronto.
"I'm not shooting for that one," Maurice said of the possibility of Laine returning against the Preds.
"We'll see. Really, I don't know. We don't know how quick these things drain. It's not really about pain tolerance."
Laine left Tuesday's game early in the second period after blocking a shot by Kings defenceman Alec Martinez.
Laine had also entered the game tied for the league goal-scoring lead with Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, but the Capitals star scored his 44th of the season in a win over Dallas on Tuesday. The Capitals play in Detroit Thursday.
Knowing Laine's injury wasn't serious was a relief for his teammates, especially linemate and close friend Nikolaj Ehlers.
"He's not happy, but I think he's going to spend his time doing something that makes him happy, too — playing video games," Ehlers joked.
"No, of course, it sucks. Being injured is never fun. He took one for the team. He'll be fine."
Laine's spot on the right side of centre Paul Stastny is being taken by 11-year veteran Bryan Little, who said he's comfortable with the change. He played wing his second and third NHL seasons, and for a bit this season.
"Patty's been on fire and those guys have been playing really well, so I want to come in and try not to disrupt that too much and, hopefully, pick up where they left off," he said.
Taking a shot for the team is understandable, but not something Maurice always wants players like Laine to do.
"He should have been skating a lot faster toward the shot," Maurice said. "Run to the fire, is the rule. Because it hurts a whole heck of a lot more if you're 30 feet off it.
"You don't have an option, especially when you get into playoffs. If you're in a shot lane, you're blocking the shot. That's a function. We would prefer that our forwards don't give 20 feet of ice to let that guy really lean into it."
"You can pull lots of video that would say that that's the best thing to do if there's no traffic," Maurice said.
"The guy with all the pads on [in goal] is in far better shape for stopping that puck than you are, but there's no real way of knowing it."
Rookie forward Jack Roslovic missed practice because of the flu, but might be fine when Winnipeg goes for its fourth straight win Friday.
With files from The Canadian Press