The Winnipeg Jets will be without at least one star player when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
Head coach Paul Maurice announced that defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is out with a lower-body injury (LBI) sustained on Thursday, while rookie sniper Patrik Laine is “feeling under the weather” and is a game-time decision.
Byfuglien left Thursday’s loss to the Kings with an LBI and subsequently missed Friday’s loss to the Ducks. He’s been solid for the Jets this season, with 48 points in 74 games while averaging over 27-minutes per night. It’s not known exactly what the injury is or how long he’ll be out of the lineup.
Missing Laine for any extended period of time would be a big loss for the Jets; he has 34 goals and 61 points in 67 games as a rookie. While he’s been quiet lately (2-1-3 in his last nine games), he’s still been one of the best rookies in the NHL. Both Laine and Auston Matthews have 34 goals and 61 points, but Laine has played in seven fewer games. He’ll need a strong finish to earn the Calder Trophy for top rookie season. The team will make the call around 4pm ahead of the 7pm puck drop.
While the Jets have not been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race just yet, it would take an absolute miracle for them to make up the 13-point gap in their seven remaining games. They need to run the table while St. Louis loses out. Barring that unlikely situation, the Jets will miss the playoffs for the third straight season.