WINNIPEG — Do you think Brandon Tanev is jacked to get back into the Winnipeg Jets lineup for Game 2 tonight? He reminded reporters no less than four times that “it’s playoff hockey” during his media scrum, just in case any of the scribes were not aware.
“Feeling good! It’s the most exciting time of the year. It’s playoff hockey,” said Tanev, who missed the last two games of the regular season and Game 1 after being slashed on the hand by Minnesota’s Eric Staal. You never know during the playoffs how fully healed an injury like this one could be, but Tanev insists that the Jets medical team leaves him ready to contribute.
“I leave that up to the training staff. It’s their job to get me ready when I can be and they do a great job of that here. It’s playoff hockey, like I said. You reiterate that.” He certainly does.
We’re not sure where the speedy Tanev will be deployed by head coach Paul Maurice, but to our eye he is an elite fourth-line checker who kills penalties very well, chipping in 14 goals and 29 points this season. Now, he may get priced out of that role with his contract up after the season, but Tanev is that depth guy who is better than most other team’s depth guys — another reason why the Jets have built an elite team here, with 213 points in the past two seasons.
“Just his energy. He brings it every night,” said fellow depth player Adam Lowry. “He’s a heart-and-soul player — so invaluable on our P.K., so valuable on our forecheck. When he comes into the lineup generally we form the checking line. He’s vital to our success. He’s in on the body. He would have even added to the physicality in Game 1.
“He’s going to be revved up. He’s going to be buzzing tonight.”
Par For The Course
Since arriving in a Feb. 25 trade for Nik Petan, Par Lindholm has found a place on head coach Paul Maurice’s trust tree here in Winnipeg. The 27-year-old played 61 games for Toronto, and prefers the North American game ahead of the European style he played during seven seasons in Sweden.
“Some of the puzzle pieces are different but it’s still hockey,” Lindholm said. “There’s less room, you have to be faster in your mind. That was a big part of my game back home in Sweden, being fast with decisions and I think that’s good to have here, too.”
When the trade was made, did he wonder if there was room for him on the Jets roster?
“First of all, I was happy it was Winnipeg. When (Toronto GM Kyle) Dubas called me I figured the season was going to be over in a month, but then I heard it was the Jets and I was excited,” he said. “I looked at the lineup and Winnipeg has at least as good forwards as Toronto. Depth-wise, I wasn’t sure if I was going to play. I was scratched for 15 games and I don’t see that as a bad thing. The doc here, Craig (Slaunwhite) is so good working with you off ice with strength and conditioning, and I feel in way better shape now.”
Young Jack Roslovic could become the odd man out with Tanev coming in. He’s had some trouble becoming a mainstay in this lineup since being drafted 25th overall in the 2015 draft.
How does he stake a claim to a permanent spot in the Top 12?
“You’d have to take someone else’s job, is what you’d have to do,” said Maurice. “Be better at whatever else that they do. He’s playing the right wing right now, so he’s either got to be better than Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine. If Tanev is available, it’d be (Tanev) right now. I’ve got Nik Ehlers on the right, so he’s got to be better than one of those guys. And if not, you build and work until you are.”
Roslovic skated late after the regulars had come off of the practice ice Friday morning, a sure sign he won’t be dressing for Game 2.