After defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime, bad news has struck the Winnipeg Jets. Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian will be out for a month. Grant Clitsome and Keaton Ellerby are also hurt and Dustin Byfuglien is back on defense.
This comes as a big blow for a team like the Winnipeg Jets that has taken pride in their strong defensive play. The Jets have been allowing 2.15 goals per game which is the fourth least amount of goals per game in the NHL.
Who will fill the many holes left on the back end?
Here is what we know:
Looks like Dustin Byfuglien will be moved to defence. "One of our best options" said Maurice. #nhljets #cbcmb— Jeff Hamilton (@jeffkhamilton) December 4, 2014
#NHLJets recall Julien Brouillette from @IceCapsAHL, and place Zach Bogosian on Injured Reserve. >> http://t.co/xaIpRDZ7fw— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) December 4, 2014
Byfuglien, Brouillette and Ben Chiarot are the three bodies that will be used to fill the gap.
But what does it mean for the pairings?
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien
Adam Pardy - Paul Postma
Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba are a staple. They are unlikely to be broken up, but they will be leaned on more heavily. Stuie on the top pair is less than ideal, but Trouba is a fast learned and loaded with potential. *Fingers crossed*
Ben Chiarot and Dustin Byfuglien appeared together in practice. They will likely be paired together in game as well. Chiarot had a solid game last night and Byfuglien has a long history as a defender, twice being voted an NHL All-Star. Zach Bogosian has been good this year, but Byfuglien played ahead of him for most of the last three. Jets fans have to hope there isn't a substantial drop off.
Adam Pardy and Paul Postma have been paired together for a while. The coach likes them. They are a serviceable third pairing.
The biggest impact may actually be to the Winnipeg Jets forward lines.
As much as losing one of Enstrom or Bogosian hurts the Winnipeg Jets defensive group (losing both is obviously a whole new kettle of tea - that we will soon be drinking), losing Dustin Byfuglien hurts a forward group that was already struggling to produce.
The forward lines:
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mathieu Perreault - Michael Frolik
Adam Lowry - Mark Scheifele - Matt Halischuk
Anthony Peluso - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
The Jets will still feature two strong lines, but the third line takes a major hit. Hopefully the kids can figure it out.
Any further injuries will put this team in a mighty tough spot.
Another option for the Jets would be to pursue a replacement on the blue line via trade.
Regardless of what the Jets do, they are missing both of their top pairing defenders and they've moved a top six winger to fill the gap. The next few games will be an adventure. What are you expecting to see from Winnipeg's hockey team?