Jets Ehlers speedster arrested by sports hernia surgery

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Nikolaj Ehlers’ injury saga took another turn on Saturday, and not for the better.

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The 26-year-old will be out indefinitely and is expected to undergo sports hernia surgery next week, Winnipeg Jets head coach Rick Bowness announced ahead of Saturday night’s game between Winnipeg and the Penguins. of Pittsburgh at the Canada Life Center.

“Details are still being finalized,” Bowness said. “We won’t know how long he’ll be out until they get in there and see what they’re dealing with.”

Ehlers has missed the last 13 games with an undisclosed lower body injury after being lame in Winnipeg’s 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Oct. 17.

The Dane took the first morning skate lines in Denver two days later before stepping out and was initially listed as a game time decision.

Last Wednesday was the first time he had skated since.

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“After 7-10 days, I felt like progress was happening,” Bowness said. “It was slower progress, no doubt, but we didn’t push and gave him some extra time, hoping to try and avoid that. We gave it as much time as possible and there comes a point where, ‘Hey, there’s something a little more than we can find right now.’

Bowness said they expect Ehlers to be back this season.

A longer stint on the sidelines for Ehlers only adds to a burgeoning infirmary for the Jets.

Fellow winger Mason Appleton underwent wrist surgery earlier this week and is expected to miss two to three months while recovering. Forward Morgan Barron is also out following wrist surgery, which came with a 4-5 week absence. He is not expected until the middle of next month.

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“What we’ve been doing lately, oh I don’t know…we’ve tightened up the defense, and that’s going to keep us in games,” Bowness said. “The guys who stepped up and played those roles did an exceptional job. We need it. They are among the first nine, they are not easy to replace. Do we miss them? Absolutely we miss them. It changes all the formations of the lines and it changes the roles. And sometimes when that happens, you put a guy in a role that normally wouldn’t be.

“Give our strikers a lot of credit because all the guys we’ve asked to adjust their roles, their minutes and even the guys they normally play with, they’ve all done a great job. That brings us back to having to play this team defense to keep us in games which we have cleaned up a lot in the last 10 games.

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The reality is that the team are deprived of 25%, including a third of their top nine forwards.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is notoriously tight-lipped about all his dealings, but you’d think he’s starting to work on the phone given the severity of his team’s injuries.

For Ehlers, recovery after sports hernia surgery seems to be pegged at between six and 12 weeks, although it can be longer in some cases.

Although Bowness is right that his contingent up front has adapted well, the growing injury toll for the Jets means the extra depth inside is quickly running out. With a glut of defenders on the roster and in the system — and plenty of teams desperate for blue line help — it looks like there’s a market for Cheveldyoff to shop around on.

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“It’s management’s call, not mine,” Bowness said Saturday when pressed on whether or not he wanted more help up front. “I train the players who are here. It’s my job.”

On defense, the Jets are still without Logan Stanley, who is struggling with a foot injury, and Dylan DeMelo, who missed his second straight game Saturday with an upper-body condition.

Bowness said they hope DeMelo can return against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.

“It’s nothing long term,” Bowness said. “We hope he comes back. He skated (Saturday morning) but not ready to go. We hope he will be back on Monday evening.

Kyle Capobianco, a healthy scratch for most of the season, played his second game in a row (and only his third this season) and Bowness has liked what he’s brought to the table so far.

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“The games he gave us were good games,” Bowness said. “He has already played in the league, obviously. He knows how to play. He sticks to what he does really well. He was reliable defensively. He moved the puck. He maintained his gaps in the neutral zone. He did the job we needed. Give it lots of credit, because it’s a hard thing to get thrown into it every once in a while. But he works very hard in training, he is always in every game. He works outside the game so when the game starts he is ready.

The inclusion of Capobianco meant youngster Ville Heinola took his place in the press box for a second contest in a row.

Heinola was called up on Wednesday but hasn’t had time to play yet.

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“The team is playing really well right now,” Bowness said. “The power play has won us the last two games. He will have his chance. »

When Heniola was sent off as one of the final cuts of training camp, Bowness cited the team’s three power-play specialists at fullback – Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk and Nate Schmidt – as the reason why. Heinola was consumable.

So far, it’s just a waiting game for the 21-year-old Finn, who had zero goals and seven assists in 11 games with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose prior to his call-up.

“The longer he’s here, the better his chances will be,” Bowness said. “It will depend on Dylan (DeMelo).”

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Twitter: @scottbilleck

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