Winnipeg – On the threshold of his pain, when Blake Wheeler leaves a game due to injury, the eyebrows are raised and there is real cause for concern.
The Winnipeg Jets captain has the longevity and desire to play with pain, so it’s such an extraordinary sight when Wheeler does not come out for the second period of Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leaves.
In the 10 seasons in which he has been transferred, Wheeler has missed just six games – a surprisingly low number when you consider how hard he plays.
Wheeler picked up a high stick from the forward of the maple leaves, Pierre Engle, who was fined a small penalty, but he came out for a power play, so the injury was not related to that play.
The exact nature of the disease is unknown, i.e. there is really no way to know the significance – at least not yet.
“He is a rock for us. He does so much, ”said Mark Schifile of the Jets Center. “He is our heart and soul. So, it’s hard to see him not coming back. ”
Earlier this season, Wheeler did his best to play through an undisclosed injury and Jets head coach Paul Morris provided a serious defense for his game and his leadership.
Wheeler’s value extends beyond the end of the score – and he has committed numerous offenses during his tenure.
“Obviously he’s the captain of our team, he’s the heartbeat of this team,” said Jets defender Josh Morrissey, who scored the lone Jets goal in the Power Play. “He’s been in this organization for a long time, that guy to us. Aside from his obvious talents and what he’s doing to us on the ice, he’s the heartbeat of our team. Not being outside him is hard, it sucks. We’ve played without him before. I do not know what’s going on with him. , I did not ask for anything.
“Things will happen at the end of the day, you have to respond. But when you see your leader going down, your captain, the all-encompassing guy we want to be here, it’s hard.”
Wheeler has 10 goals and 26 points from 37 games this season, and was recently placed in a row as Maurice wants to test a new mix with Pierre-Luke Dubois and Paul Stastney.
“You have to get these games with the idea of what changes you can make in your jobs when different teams are playing when you get down in a series, something doesn’t work,” Maurice said. “This is the regular season. Finding out how you can make changes to deal with your team today in Toronto, Edmonton or Montreal. So that’s the learning process we’ve trying to go through right now.”
Figures that can be continued for the time being, depending on how long the wheeler can be sidelined.
In the short term, this will open the door for Johnson Harkins to go in line.
Hurkins, who has been limited to 12 games this season and has not played since Feb. 19, has been patiently waiting for his chance, and now it’s one thing to find out how those pieces fit.
Initially, moving Andrew Cop back to the top six would probably make more sense this season as he has already been used to that role.
While he is likely to reunite with Adam Lori and Mason Appleton, Matthew Perrault could be under consideration for a bump, while Hargins could accommodate Nate Thompson and Trevor Lewis in the fourth row.
No matter what order Morris chooses, the Jets will take a team-by-through approach, and one of the biggest changes in Powerplay will come when the Wheeler plays a key role as an important distributor in the pre-existence.
As for this first-place clash, the Jets flat, there wasn’t much energy in the opening period because the maple leaves tied a 2-0 cushion that would have been wider if it hadn’t been for the Jets goalie’s game. Connor Hellebok.
When Maple Leaves opened the door to take three penalties in the second period, the Jets were ready to try and reduce the deficit, but instead Alex Gerfoot found the back of the net and extended the lead.
Since it was the last change in the series for the first time this season, that aspect of the game is often important to all the debates going into the competition about how the Jets can create and create some match-up issues with maple leaves.
By winning the opening game of these two games, the Maple Leafs set up a little breathing chamber at the top of the Northern Division levels, building three points over the Jets and four points over the Edmonton Oilers.
With five more inverted junctions left to go between jets and maple leaves, there is plenty of time to decide who can earn the home-frost benefits.
“I think you want to win, don’t you? You want to win your division. You want to win the best, so I don’t know if this has much influence in the playoffs, but this is something you want to do,” Cobb said.
“You want to be at the top of your division … the last change is good, but it doesn’t dictate the game, so I don’t think there’s much in the queue to take advantage of each other.”
The biggest question that came out of Wednesday ‘s 3-1 defeat to Toronto was not how the Jets will bounce back in Friday’s rematch, but how long it will take to get out of the Wheeler line.
Maurice opened up that this might be an opportunity if Wheeler really missed the time situation – not necessarily.
“It didn’t feel right, so we wanted to be careful with that,” Morris said. “Actually, I don’t know. He may return in full ice in the next game. It is not COVID related. We wanted to be real careful with him so he could come back and never miss a change again. So now it is open. ”
The situation is fluid and very high in the air and no update will be offered until Friday morning as the Jets will not be skating on Tuesday.
Only time will tell.
The Jets want to extend the NHL trade deadline to April 12, when Derek Forford leaves the game in the first period of a knee-jerk attack with Dubois after the first goal of the maple leaves.
But he only missed a few shifts before Forport came back and finished the game.