The Winnipeg Jets take on the Edmonton Oilers in Game Two of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday evening. Already up 1-0 after an exciting opening game of the series, the Jets received further positive news on Friday at morning skate.
Icing a less-than-ideal lineup for the opening game, Winnipeg managed to hold off Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers in a 4-1 victory, despite missing the two top-six players.
Positive news on the #NHLJets front, as both Nikolaj Ehlers and Pierre-Luc Dubois are skating in regular contact jerseys in Edmonton this afternoon.
— Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) May 21, 2021
Just after morning skate, Dubois appeared on Zoom for local reporters and announced his healthy return to the lineup for Friday evening.
“I’m 100 percent ready to go and really excited for tonight,” Dubios said Friday afternoon.
“We’re hockey players, we want to play,” PLD added. “It’s never easy not being in the lineup, not practicing with the team. It’s stuff that happens. I worked with the training staff. I tried to get as ready as possible for when that day would come and finally we’re here and I’m really excited to be back.”
The Jets’ youngest forward went on talk about every moment as a critical opportunity in the playoffs, with reference to each shift and singular battle on ice.
“Yeah, that’s exciting,” forward Mathieu Perreault said of Dubois’ return. “From what I’ve seen last year in the playoffs he was a beast against Toronto. We’re hoping that coming into the lineup that’s the kind of game he can bring for us.”
“I’ll second that,” Neal Pionk intervened. “I think we all saw what he did last year in the bubble in Toronto. He’s a big body and he’ll be good for us tonight.”
Ehlers, on the other hand, is currently in his “fourth or fifth day” of controlled contact, according to head coach Paul Maurice. He won’t play on Friday, but his return to the lineup is imminent, as he has recently been reintroduced to full-contact scenarios.
“Yeah, he looks good,” Maurice said. “He was out of the gold sweater today and wore a normal sweater. He’s been in controlled contact for probably four or five days now, and he’s in full contact now and looking like he wants to play.”
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On Wednesday, the Jets received two assists from Nate Thompson and the game-winning goal on a Logan Stanley point-shot deflection from Dominic Toninato. Depth options certainly came into the fold for the visitors.
“Everybody loves those guys,” Maurice said following the game. “You always celebrate more when somebody who doesn’t score a lot gets a goal. It was part of the theme of the way that playoff goals are scored. You drive to the net, you drive pucks to the net, you work hard in the hard areas – which is net front. For Logan Stanley, that’s his first (playoff) point on a puck to the net. All of those things kind of build that excitement on your bench. Any goal is celebrated, but when it’s a guy that doesn’t score a lot of goals, they enjoy it a little bit more for sure.”
Thompson, who is now tied for the team lead alongside Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele with two points through one playoff game, knows his role and says that Jets fans can expect more of the exact same efforts from the team’s fourth line going forward.
“I think it becomes probably more important,” Thompson said of the role of he and his linemates. I don’t know if the role changes at all but you look at all the teams that are successful in the playoffs and sometimes some nights the first and second line will cancel each other out and it comes down to the third and fourth lines kind of being that X factor. So like you said, I think it gets to be pretty important at this time of year.”