With an extra-busy schedule crunch -- even by this season's tight-as-a-drum timetable -- the Winnipeg Jets are in a tough spot.
Heading into their Tuesday road game against the Ottawa Senators, the second clash during a stretch of five games in seven days, the Jets are missing key defensemen Dylan DeMelo (personal) and Tucker Poolman (COVID-19 protocol) and possibly an even bigger difference-maker, forward Patrik Laine.
Laine missed Winnipeg's 3-1 road loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday due to an upper-body injury. Laine, who scored twice in the Jets' season opener on Thursday -- during which he played through the issue bothering him -- briefly took part in the morning skate on Monday. His status is listed as day-to-day.
Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said, "He wants to be sure that he can perform with it. We've got to get this thing healed. I don't have a timeline for you. I'm not looking at this, unless something changes, as long term. ...
"We want to get him back in the lineup, you wish you had more time between games to let it heal. We don't, but we won't put him back in until he's confident that he can be the player that he was."
The Senators, however, won't have any sympathy. It was announced Tuesday morning that rookie forward Tim Stutzle wouldn't play due to a minor injury that will sideline him on a day-to-day basis. Alex Galchenyuk is likely to replace him for the game.
Stutzle, the highly touted third overall pick in the 2020 draft who joined the team after an outstanding performance at the world junior tournament, scored his first career goal in Saturday's loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Just a little nagging, minor injury that would be more of a day to day situation," coach DJ Smith said. "We're just being more cautious and anything."
His injury is a blow to an Ottawa team that's pegged to be closer to the bottom of the standings than a playoff spot, but their opening weekend -- the Senators opened the season with a 5-3 home win over Toronto but lost a 3-2 rematch -- had Smith seeing some positives.
"I think we were very good in our own zone," Smith said. "As much as Toronto had the puck, in the Grade A chances, they were down. We are playing responsible away from the puck. With the puck, there's room for improvement."
The Jets are coming off a disappointing game in Toronto to kick off their three-game road swing that includes a pair of games in Ottawa. After a scoreless first period, the Maple Leafs produced a 22-6 edge in second-period shots and took the lead for good. The score flattered Winnipeg, which benefited from a 35-save performance by goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
"Clearly we got dominated in the second period," Maurice said. "If you get slow against anybody in this league, you're going to have a problem. But playing slow leads to bigger gaps. They certainly exploited those in the second (period)."
Added Kyle Connor, who scored the Jets' lone goal, "It wasn't our best period of hockey. I think all night we were kind of looking for it.
"That's the good thing about the NHL. We have a game back-to-back, so we can forget about that one."
--Field Level Media
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