WINNIPEG – Six different Winnipeg Jets made their playoff debuts Wednesday, and in light of the upper-body injury suffered by Mathieu Perreault, it’s possible a seventh gets introduced to the post-season in Game 2.
Perreault’s left shoulder bore the brunt of a hard, open-ice Mikko Koivu check in Game 1. The third-line winger tried to play a few more shifts, was slammed to the ice multiple times and left the game early.
The impetus behind Koivu’s check was Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien hammering Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek earlier in the same shift.
“Interesting enough, it was a great hit and put [Eriksson Ek] out for a couple of minutes. But more interesting enough, our captain and our leader came right back and did the same thing to Perreault,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Sorta said, ‘We can hit too.’ That’s what leadership does.”
Perreault’s centreman, Bryan Little, admitted his line struggled to find its groove afterward.
“It’s always tough losing a guy early in a game. It’s hard to juggle the lines. You’re mixing and matching guys, trying to fit guys in to play with us,” Little said.
“We just want to bring some energy as a line, and if some offence comes out of that, it’s a bonus. We were going well yesterday, so hopefully he’s back soon.”
Perreault did not participate in the Jets’ optional practice Thursday, nor was he available to the media. Head coach Paul Maurice provided no update on Perreault’s health, beyond saying he’ll be a game-time decision Friday.
Defeceman Tobias Enstrom, sidelined with a lower-body injury since March 23, has been upgraded to a game-time possibility, while Dmitry Kulikov (upper body) and Matt Hendricks (lower body) will not play.
The Jets’ winning ways haven’t been hindered despite injuries to key forwards Mark Scheifele and Adam Lowry this season. Capable young forwards Jack Roslovic and Marko Dano are the top candidates to draw in for Perreault.
First-rounder Roslovic, 21, has contributed 14 points in 31 appearances with the Jets this season.
“He’s a young guy, really fast. We want him to use his speed and kind of fill in for Matty. He can play that game. He’s got a lot of energy and a feel to make plays in their end, so not too much of a transition there,” Little says.
“We’re used to shuffling the deck a bit. Guys have stepped up when we needed them to… It’s nice to have a talented group where you can get a guy into the lineup and he’s a player right away.”