The reeling Winnipeg Jets will try to give interim coach Dave Lowry his first victory when they host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon.
Lowry replaced Paul Maurice Friday and lost his debut 5-2 to the Washington Capitals. The Jets were stunned by Maurice’s sudden resignation and that showed on the ice.
“For a lot of us, even myself just getting here this year, when you think about Winnipeg Jets hockey, you think of Paul Maurice leading the way,” Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon said. “For us, trying to get going for tonight, that first period, we were maybe a little bit just kind of in the moment of everything going on, but as the game went on, we got better.”
That pace gives the Jets something to build on as they settle in under Lowry.
“I thought we did play a fast game,” Lowry said. “When you put up 40 shots, you’re doing something right. I thought it might have taken us a little while to get it going, but the second period I thought we did a good job of playing fast, managing the puck, creating opportunities.”
Since starting the season 9-3-3, the Jets have won just four of 14 games while going 4-8-2.
Meanwhile the Blues have gone 7-1-3 in their last 11 games. They are coming off of consecutive 4-1 victories over the Dallas Stars.
“Winning is fun,” said Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored twice Friday to give him four goals and five assists in his last six games. “I think it’s enough to say it’s fun. The atmosphere, the mood, the confidence, it’s great to keep winning. We have a tough trip coming up, so looking forward to next game.”
The Blues’ roster has been depleted by injuries and COVID-19 protocols, but they have gotten a lift from American Hockey League call-ups Nathan Walker, Dakota Joshua and Alexei Toropchenko.
Those three have formed an aggressive checking line that helped the Blues get back to their basics.
“The physical play has been huge really for our identity and the way we’re winning right now in my opinion,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “Joshua, Toropchenko, Walker — it’s rubbing off on everybody in my opinion with the forechecking and physical play.
“I thought that we did the same thing tonight that we did in Dallas. We eventually wore ’em down and won the game late.”
Goaltender Jordan Binnington came off of COVID-19 protocol and backed up Charlie Lindgren Friday. He could make his first start since Nov. 30.
On the other hand, Lindgren, who started the season as the team’s No. 4 goaltender, has gone 5-0-0 with a 1.22 goals-against average as Binnington’s replacement. So Berube could ride the hot hand.
“He’s answered the bell, that’s for sure,” Berube said. “He’s coming in there and he’s doing a great job for us, making saves he’s supposed to make. You know, I can’t really say much more than that.”
Injuries continue to be an issue for the Jets, who lost forwards David Gustafsson (lower-body) and Evgeny Svechnikov (undisclosed) during their loss to the Capitals.
–Field Level Media