Paul Maurice view injuries as just part of Jets’ unique story

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice. (John Woods/CP)

WINNIPEG — “So Paul Stastny plays for us. We play Boston at home third week in March.”

There are people who answer questions with questions, then there is Paul Maurice. The Winnipeg Jets coach likes to answer a question with a story.

His team is set to play the first series clinching game this city has seen in almost 30 years, and with the one-game suspension given to Josh Morrissey on Wednesday, Maurice will have only two of his club’s top-six defencemen available for Game 5.

Anyways, back to Paul Stastny.

“(It’s the) third week in March and that’s the very first time the entire forward units had been together,” he continued. “It’s been the year we’ve had.”

It’s a bummer, isn’t it?

You put together a good team, you play all year, and you finally get to a Game 5 Friday night when these Jets/Thrashers could win their first series since the franchise was born back in 1999. And you have to go with D-men seven through 10.

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“You hear it all the time, you need to have eight or nine NHL defenceman that can play,” said Ben Chiarot, the No. 7 who is clearly of top-six pedigree. “We lost (Mark) Scheifele for eight weeks this year. We’ve had big injuries all over the place, but we’ve always managed to keep trucking. That’s kind of just the way it goes around here.”

Chiarot is in for Toby Enstrom, who has been hurt on and off all season. Joe Morrow, the former first-rounder who bounced through the door here in February after tours of duty in Boston and Montreal, steps in for Dmitry Kulikov.

Then Tyler Myers goes down in Game 3, and in comes Tucker Poolman for a steady 8:17 in Game 4. Now, meet AHL Defenceman of the Year Sami Niku, a young Finn — and reigning AHL Defenceman of the Year — who will make his NHL playoff debut under the bright lights of a potential series-clincher at home.

Does it ever become too much?

“You know, our game is pretty simple,” said thoughtful winger Nikolaj Ehlers. “We want to get the puck north, and fast. Move the puck as fast as possible, move our feet, get pucks to the net. Everybody should be able to do that in this league. It’s not that hard.”

Playoff history is, of course, littered with teams that overcame injury. Remember the ’04 Calgary Flames? By the time they reached the Stanley Cup Final they were using a farmhand named Brennan Evans — whose only two NHL games came during that Flames run — and some guy with a big, red Afro named Mike Commodore.

Buffalo finally buckled in ’06, losing a Conference Final to Carolina when Teppo Numminen, Henrik Tallinder and Dmitri Kalinin all went down, then Jay McKee got a staph infection on the day of Game 7.

It is the nature of hockey that injuries are an inevitable part of the playoff journey, so as such, players dump that into the age old category of things not to be worried about because they can not be controlled.

“Every year there is some kind of adversity, right?” Stastny said. “You’re going to go through it in the regular season, and you’re going to go through it in the playoffs. This team has had a lot of injuries, and didn’t skip a beat.

“When I got here they still had some guys out, and we just kept playing along. It’s just a product of how the coaching staff has ingrained the way we want to play here.”

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

The fact that the Jets have been a top-five NHL team this year in man games lost by important players actually has become helpful.

Minnesota lost Ryan Suter for good with a broken foot on March 31 — just 11 days before they opened against Winnipeg in Round 1. Then they lose Zach Parise in Game 3 with a broken sternum. Those are catastrophic injuries.

Winnipeg has had shorter-term injuries, just more of them. In the end, it likely made them a better team.

“We’re so used to this,” Maurice said. “It doesn’t cause a ripple in there (the dressing room) when a guy goes down or a guy goes out. We’ve had players come in and be good. Jack Roslovic (in for injured Matthew Perreault) has been a real good player this series. It creates a little competition to get back in the lineup.”

Win Friday, and the Jets will get most of a week off to heal up. If this doesn’t kill them, and we don’t suspect it will, then the old cliché kicks in.

It will make them stronger.

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